After embarrassing a gang leader in front of his posse, he once had a gun shoved in his face.
As the drunken teen slowly squeezed the trigger, Boyd offered an apology.
“I had no right to yell at you the way I did,” Boyd said. “Do what you got to do.”
The young man lowered his weapon and began weeping.
“Nobody has ever treated me and my boys the way you have,” Boyd was told. Instead of being slain, Boyd’s “brother” then embraced him.
Those experiences inspired Boyd, 73, to pen his first novel, “Slaughter of the Lamb.” Set to be released by Morgan James Publishing early next year, the fictitious book is largely inspired by Boyd’s own past.
He arrived in Manhattan in 1964 as a member of Young Life, a Christian youth services organization. He spent 18 months living alongside teenage gang members in the Alfred E. Smith Houses.
He was shocked by what he saw. Buildings nearly 20 stories tall stood atop garbage-strewn streets. Thousands of hopeless young people lived in squalid conditions, where drug abuse and violence were a part of everyday life.
The teens lived by a different set of morals, Boyd said. While charity was appreciated, he said what the teens wanted most was a way out of the lifestyle.
Boyd helped set up a prep school for youth in the neighborhood.
Most of the graduates went on to college, he said, while others became leaders within the community.
He spent the last eight years working on the book. The intent, he said, was to show how “God loves even the unlovely.”
The novel is the first in a trilogy. The next installment will be based on Boyd’s experiences working with youths in Chicago.
According to the FBI, there are 1.4 million gang members in America today. A third are under the age of 18.
Locally, Boyd said he believes more can be done to help at-risk youths.
He said he would like to see churches band together to help endangered teens get on their feet.
“We need a comprehensive program that the churches will pay for,” he said. “We can’t wait for the government to pay for it.”
What he learned 50 years ago, Boyd said, applies to north Fulton today.
“In the suburbs, there is an undercurrent of violence, also,” he said. “There is abuse in the homes, alcoholics beating their wives and kids … there’s probably as much violence in Roswell as there is in New York City, but it’s behind closed doors.”