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Community leaders angry, call for action following recent South Bend shootings

Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 9:32 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Community leaders sounded off while addressing South Bend’s gun violence at a press conference Wednesday morning.

It comes after three homicides in just over a week, and at least nine shootings in the month of October.

Many folks like Bobbie Woods, the founder of Mamas Against Violence, say they are fed up and frustrated of seeing little-to-no change.

“I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired,” Brown said.

In 2021, there has been 91 shootings in South Bend so far, 15 of them deadly. For Isaac Hunt, who heads the city’s S.A.V.E. Outreach Team, only time will tell if that number will grow as 15-year-old Tyler Brown, who was shot while driving home on Oct. 7th, remains in critical condition.

“The young man that got shot in the head, Pastor Lee’s nephew, driving home…and somebody just shot him in the head for what? Why?!,” Hunt said.

Several people including St. Joseph County Sheriff Bill Redman took time to point out many of the city’s recent violence have, in one way or another, involved young people, especially teens. The most recent example: multiple fights at Clay High School on Tuesday.

“We had an incident yesterday at Clay High School where we had multiple fights break out in the cafeteria. What I saw there was just unbelievable. We had over 30 police officers respond to that incident yesterday,” Redman said.

As a result, city officials are now looking to correct a problem that, as St. Joseph County Prosecutor Ken Cotter pointed out, doesn’t care how old or how young its victims are.

“We have to collectively say I’m done allowing violence to occur.”

In the short term, South Bend Common Council President Karen White says she wants to see more street lights, more cameras, and neighborhoods being cleaned up especially in areas where crime rates are up.

“What I’ve seen through my research is they are using these areas to put their cars, they put guns in that area because no one else can see them,” White says.

As for Mayor James Mueller, he is calling on parents to pull the guns away from their kids who Hunt says have been seen carrying as young as 14-years-old.

“If you’re a parent, make sure to look to see if your kids have guns...get rid of the guns,” Mueller says.

“We need to say something. These are our kids that are dying. I’m hurt because you don’t know what it’s like to sit there and see a seven-year-old girl dead and have to go home after it’s over and deal with these issues and these problems.”

Problems that South Bend Police Chief Scott Ruszkowski says can be solved by speaking up despite what others may say.

“For people to say street code, snitch, whatever, that’s B.S. That’s straight up B.S.,” Ruszkowski said.

But what many officials say is true is being realistic and doing the work it takes to raise a child. Things like providing education, child care, violence prevention, better parenting, adding new laws & resources, as well as not only holding criminals accountable, but holding each other accountable as well.

“The city cares from the top to the bottom. From the mayor to the beat officer on the street. We all want to be part of a solution but we need others to join us as well,” Mueller says.

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