Residents and police meet to address gun violence in Southwest Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Residents of one Southwest Philadelphia neighborhood met with law enforcement officials Thursday night to come up with ideas to help police respond to the gun violence that is ravaging families in the area.

So many people turned out for the meeting at the Abiding Truth ministries on South 57th Street that there was no parking for blocks and people had to squeeze into the church to address concerns about all of the violence.

"We need a lot of support around here, we're losing too many kids," said Monique Irvis.

Roughly 300 people turned out for the meeting, most of whom gave the same reason for their appearance.

"Violence has got to stop, It's too much that's going on," said Michelle Carr.

Police said there have been three homicides in Southwest Philadelphia in the last two and a half weeks.

"The good news is we do have a suspect in the first homicide," said Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Joel Dales.

Police also announced they made an arrest in the shooting of a 16-year-old girl over the weekend on Whitby Avenue. But the question remains: Why is there so much violence among young people?

"The conditions inside the urban situation is just bad, schools are closing, you have high unemployment, you just have hopelessness so after a while you begin to turn on yourself," said Rev. Benjamin Green of Abiding Truth Ministries.

One man told the audience there are many young people in the neighborhoods carrying anger and rage over losing friends and loved ones and they need to be taught how to deal with such trauma.

"You don't know how to deal with that, so if they can learn how to heal, they're walking around with rage and anger and that's why it's turning into gun violence," said Jon McKay of Life Outside the Streets.

Some said they respect the fact that so many adults showed up but the people that needed to be here are the young people involved in the shootings.

"What you see tonight is evidence of the action taking place through a reaction from the murders, but let's have a reaction from our youth," said Andrew Howell of Race for Peace.

And police said that is a large part of what they want to focus on going forward.

"Anything we can do to try to think outside the box to stop what's going on is something that's a priority for me and the police department," said Philadelphia Police Capt. Scott Drissel.

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