Judge shot in March calls for end to gun violence

Derek Draplin
The Detroit News

Detroit — U.S. District Judge Terrence Berg called for an end to "the scourge of gun violence" during a rally for peace Friday, his first public appearance since he was shot in the leg outside his home last month.

Berg received a standing ovation from a crowd of more than 300 at Gesu Catholic Church during the "Walk for Hope, Walk Against Violence." His wife, Anita Sevier, and a son, Teddy, guided him to the podium with a wheelchair. But Berg stood with a crutch and spoke for 17 minutes.

"This is a time for our city to experience a liberation from the scourge of gun violence," said Berg, 55, who added: "We're all here because we love Detroit and want to do something positive to show that we are against gun violence."

Speaking on Good Friday, Berg called for a "spiritual conversion" in Detroit. The key to reducing gun violence, he said, is more jobs, better schools and more police officers.

"I am sorry to have become a victim of gun violence, but I know I am much more fortunate than so many Detroiters who are injured and killed by gun violence every year," Berg said.

A federal judge since 2012, Berg was shot March 5 outside his home near Seven Mile and Livernois in Detroit while taking out the trash. Two men between the ages of 18 and 25 demanded to be let inside his home. They shot Berg in the right leg when he refused, then fled in a dark-colored sedan, the FBI said.

Berg underwent two surgeries, has metal rods in his leg and was released from the hospital March 11. Last week, he returned to work part time from his home.

On Thursday, federal officials increased the reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction in the shooting of Berg to $50,000 from $35,000. The FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and Detroit Police are investigating.

Berg said he can "get around better on crutches."

His wife said, "He's doing OK (and) getting a lot better" but the leg is still "uncomfortable and clumsy."

Berg is a member of the parish. He stayed at the church during the walk. Also in attendance for the 21/2 hour event was Jennifer Stalker. She is the mother of Paige Stalker, a 16-year-old Grosse Pointe student who was shot and killed on Detroit's east side on Dec. 22.

"It's inspiring to see so many people who care about Detroit who want to make a difference and are full of hope about Detroit and committed to saying no about gun violence," Berg said.

The Rev. Robert Scullin said the walk "was about not being silent in the face" of violence.

Parishioner Marjorie Robinson, 75, said she was "very hurt and very angry" by the shooting but it inspired the city.

"He came out of it OK, which is really great," Robinson, a lifelong Detroit resident, said. "All the people that were here shows how much we want the city to improve."