WEST MEMPHIS, AR (WMC) - West Memphis Mayor Marco McClendon wants to make a difference in the city he frequently says he loves.
This comes after a vigil was held for a 16-year-old athlete who died after being shot and a couple of days after McClendon helped turn in a murder suspect in a separate incident.
Taylon Vail, 16, was shot and killed early Friday morning when someone fired close to a dozen shots into his West Memphis home.
His family says the well-liked student athlete was inside playing video games when it happened.
“The most important thing about the whole session was to sit down and listen to them,” McClendon said.
McClendon met with Taylon Vail’s ninth grade class and said the students opened up to him.
“They know more than we as adults think they know,” McClendon said. “Talked about situations they are dealing with.”
McClendon told the students about his mentoring program to help girls and boys in his city. He said they related to him. because he grew up in West Memphis, raised his sons in West Memphis.
McClendon, who’s been on the city council for 16 years, is a familiar face who walks the streets of West Memphis unafraid of 18 guys on the street with pit bulls who he talked with, and asked about their problems with no judgement.
“They feel they can talk to me,” McClendon said. “I have street cred in that manner where everyone can talk to me.”
That is likely why friends of Reginald Smith reached out to McClendon last weekend when he decided to turn himself in.
Smith is one of two suspects in a shooting April 6 at the Second Chance Car Care Center where there is also a club. Two people died in the shooting.
"He felt with me being there, I could help to insure his safety and he would be treated fairly as he goes through the process of turning himself in,” McClendon said.
At this point no one has been arrested in the murder of Taylon Vail.
There is speculation whoever did it got the wrong house.