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Residents Call On Community Leaders To End Gang Violence In Liberty City

MIAMI (CBS4) - There's a call for action to curb the escalating gang violence that has claimed lives, put people in the hospital and terrorized Liberty City and surrounding communities.

There's been a sharp increase in violent attacks in the past three months, police say.

Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado and City Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones say the city is planning a number of programs and initiatives in the future to reach out to more young people in the community and to hopefully steer more youngsters away from gangs.

They also say police are planning to be more visible in troubled neighborhoods and they are calling on more people in the community to help out with tips about criminal activity.

"It's no longer about drugs. It's about turf and guns," Spence-Jones told CBS4's Peter D'Oench. "We can't have that in our neighborhoods. People have to feel safe in their neighborhoods."

Mayor Regalado told D'Oench, "My heart goes out to the families and the communities and people who are afraid that something bad can happen."

Miami Police are looking for leads in a number of shootings.

On June 27th, 16-year-old Ron Jones and Greyston Garcia were caught in a cross fire between gang members, according to police sources, and lost their lives.

Police are looking for leads in that case and are looking into whether three shootings that claimed two lives this week and put three victims in the hospital in critical condition were gang related.

On Monday, 29-year-old Ahmad Mackay---a father of a one-year-old girl---was shot and killed in the 1000 block of Northwest 55th street in Liberty City. That is no far from Spence-Jones's home.

"I have kids myself and this happened on my blocks," she said. "I could have been outside with my son while he was playing basketball."

Spence-Jones said there have been four shootings recently on her block. So the Commissioner not only represents District 5, but she also goes to crime scenes as well.

"We have to unite together on this and understand that we have a gang problem," said Spence-Jones. "We need the residents and the individuals who see this sort of criminal activity on the street to report this crime."

In another shooting this week, two men were critically wounded in a drive-by shooting that happened as detectives were serving a warrant.

Regalado said he has meet with Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa about the problem.

"The Chief is developing a plan with more visibility and more people and more cars on the street," Regalado said. "We still need people to talk to us, to tell us what is going on, to get our information from the source. We sometimes don't know the players that we are looking for."

Regalado said "The Police Athletic League is also doing a lot to reach out to young men" to steer them in the right direction away from criminal activity.

"A lot of people have no other opportunities to them than what they see on the street," said Spence-Jones. "So we are hoping to create more initiatives to help these people."

Miami Police say so far they have no suspects in the street shootings this week, which is why they desperately need more help from the public.


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