Chester, Pa. on pace to eclipse 2016 murder rate

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Chester homicide rate on the rise. Christie Ileto reports during Action News at 11 p.m. on August 7, 2017. (WPVI)

Chester, a town with fewer than 40,000 residents, has had more than 20 homicides in 2017, and the year isn't even over.

It's no wonder why residents and community activists are uneasy.

"We're tired of it. We're tired of it," community activist Jonathan Abdur-Rahim King said.

Three shootings happened within 24 hours over the weekend.

"We know drugs are playing a role. Turf, things that people don't own is playing a role, retaliation," Abdur-Rahim King said.

Chester is home to 21 murders so far this year. It is on pace to eclipse last year's 26 total number of homicides.

In fact, of Delaware County's 25 murders, 84% of them happened in Chester.

Chester Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland told Action News Monday night, "Does Philadelphia need to do better? Yes. Does Chicago need to do better? Yes."

Action News pointed out that this is not about those cities.

Mayor Kirkland replied, "Does Chester need to do better? Yes."

Mayor Kirkland, who argues no city is immune to such violence, feels the murder rate is a mere snapshot of a bigger, unspoken problem.

"They focus on the homicide rate, but they don't focus on the guns and ammunition. Why are guns and ammunition so easily accessible? Until we address the big issue, the problem will continue to persist," Mayor Kirkland said.

Some residents argue they're stepping up to stop the violence, but the undercurrent of crime is too strong.

"We're not even all the way in the summer yet. That's very scary. And I hope and pray this kind of nonsense will stop," Abdur-Rahim King said.

Mayor Kirkland said the city is working to start a pilot program that will help track the guns being used in these violent crimes. His office is hoping to get state approved funds for that initiative.

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pennsylvania newshomicideshootingmurderChester
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