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Community Leaders React To Shooting Deaths Of 2 Young People

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Community leaders are reacting to the shooting deaths of two young people during a violent weekend in Miami.

A 15-year-old boy and 21-year-old man were gunned down less than a mile apart, within two hours of each other.

A third man was shot the same night, but survived.

Leaders in the community, who are worried about their kids, are speaking out.

"I remember a very fun, loving young man. A kid that wanted to be a good football player," recalled Luther Campbell a South Florida musician, community activist and former football coach.

He remembers that 21-year-old Jaquan Leonard spent most of his football career at Miami Northwestern Senior High on the bench – but Campbell says he always saw something special in him when he coached him.

"This kid is one kid I looked at every day, that had the passion to want to be something in life. I prayed he wouldn't get lost to the streets – and my prayers weren't answered," Campbell told CBS4's Natalia Zea.

Jaquan was shot to death Saturday night in Liberty City.

Just two hours earlier, less than a mile away, 15-year-old Alder Hill was gunned down. His family says he was riding his bike.

"He was a good little boy and I hate to see that someone went to this level to hurt him and put him to sleep," cried Alder's aunt during a candlelight vigil where he was killed.

That vigil quickly went from a focus on his life, to anger over the violence plaguing the streets of Miami.

One man shouted to the crowd, "We are killing our own self, we own blood, we own people, we own race! That's a disgrace!"

Alder had left school after 8th grade at Allapattah Middle last year.

Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho honored him and the other victims with a moment of silence at a news conference Monday morning announcing new trade schools in the community.

"We are facing a crisis and we need a set of actions to address this issue. It is a matter of law enforcement, municipal leaders, leaders in communities not impacted by this crime need to come together to find an effective solution," said Carvalho.

The district says it is offering more trade programs than ever before, but Campbell believes even more manual skills-focused courses are needed to help keep kids out of trouble.

"When other ones are going off to college, I just be praying because I know the streets are going to be very attractive to them," he said.

He also believes the justice system should be tougher on gun crimes.

"These kids are very intelligent on the law. They know they can go commit a crime and they won't get life," he added.

As a mentor to young kids in tough neighborhoods, Campbell says he also feels partly to blame when Miami's young people lose their lives to violence.

"It hurts, I really feel like I failed," he said.

The third man shot this weekend in Saturday's night of violence was transported to Jackson Memorial Hospital in critical condition. Miami Police have not released his name.

Authorities have not said whether any of these three shootings are connected.

There is one clear, common thread in all three attacks. The shooters are still free in the community.


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