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Washtenaw County leaders address rise in gun violence

Washtenaw County leaders address rise in gun violence
Washtenaw County leaders address rise in gun violence 02:54

(CBS DETROIT) - The Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office held a press conference on Wednesday with law enforcement, elected officials and community members to address a rise in firearms-related violent crimes. 

According to officials, there have been 30 shootings in the county since January, four of those homicides. 

They said the crimes are prevalent among a particular age group. 

"The victims and the subjects are interchangeable, but more importantly, they are the youth in our community," said Ypsilanti Police Chief Kirk Moore. 

"Everybody up here, from law enforcement to our office and certainly our community members, has love for everybody in this community," said Washtenaw County Prosecutor Eli Savit. "And we want to work together and help people choose the right path. Choose the path that's going to lead to prosperity and not lead to loss of life and not lead to incarceration." 

Local activists said it's on community members to prevent further violence.  

"Being a byproduct of this community, I know it starts from community members," said executive director of Supreme Felons Inc., Billy Cole. "So, our shoutout to all of those watching this: Let's stand up. Because the real solution must come from those within this community." 

"My call to action is to the parents; it's to the grandparents; it's to the fathers of these children," said Charles Peterson Bey. "We know that the children we're losing are children – they're children. And young adults." 

Officials said guns are sometimes stolen during home invasions and vehicle break-ins, emphasizing the need to store guns securely. 

"These folks are walking through the neighborhood, and all they're doing is pulling on the door," said Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton. "And if the door is open, they're going in, and they're looking for anything they can get that (has) value, but also, they're looking for guns." 

To address part of the problem, WCSO is working on a program to give away 500 gun locks for cars in the near future. 

Ultimately, officials said connecting with those at risk in the community is the key to addressing the root cause of gun violence. 

"We have to formulate meaningful connections among community members, but particularly with our young folks, to make sure they know that they are loved, they are supported, and they don't have to turn to violence or retaliation in order to express their feelings and what's occurring in their lives or the things they don't have the words to say," said Ypsilanti Mayor Nicole Brown. 

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