SOUTHWEST PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia police are seeking the public's help in shutting down - once and for all - a group they said has been terrorizing one Southwest Philadelphia neighborhood for years.
A group centered near 53rd and Greenway, investigators said, has kept this area in a constant state of fear by carrying out all kinds of crimes including at least 5 murders since January - four of them still unsolved.
"This group has terrorized this community since we go back to about 2012," said Lt. John Walker of the Philadelphia Police Department. "We know they've overtaken people's homes. They've shot people's dogs. They've killed people."
Some of its members are behind bars. Others still out there. Authorities need the public's help convicting those in custody and catching those on the run.
So this week, they started blanketing the area with flyers. It's an outright appeal for people to come forward.
"It's a new strategy we're trying, and we're hopeful that people come forward anonymously to give us those little pieces that can help with this investigation," said Walker.
Some neighborhood locals are ripping the flyers down - taking issue with the characterization of the group as some kind of criminal enterprise. They believe there must be better solutions to break the cycle of violence.
"When all you know is the streets, that's all you're gone do," said Ron Coleman of Southwest Philadelphia. "They don't have no avenues. They closing down schools. They're closing down libraries."
But investigators said finally shutting this group down will help lift this neighborhood back up.
"It's a group that just is out of control. We believe that getting this group off the street is really going to improve this community," said Walker.
Anyone will information can submit anonymous tips to a special ATF hotline at 1-800-283-4867.
They hope to make the last arrests, solve those unsolved murders and successfully prosecute the cases in federal court, where the sentences are toughest.