“We can turn this whole city around”: Residents and leaders are discussing ways to curb the rise in gun violence in Gainesville

Published: Jul. 9, 2021 at 12:20 AM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -People concerned about the rise in gun violence in Gainesville packed the Southeast Tenth Avenue Church of Christ to discuss ways to help combat the issue. The meeting comes two weeks after the American Legion Post shooting that led to the death of 13-year-old Christopher Scott.

The organizer of Thursday’s meeting, Devondrick Slater, believes this type of behavior from preteens and teenagers is in some way them asking for help.

“The kids are acting out because they are crying out for help. A lot of them said, there are no summer programs. There is nothing for these kids to do. If they don’t have anything to do, they are going to get in trouble. They are going to find something to do,” explained Slater. “They are going to get in trouble.”

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Officials with GPD who have been working on the shooting from last month said the young people involved are providing a glimpse into why this is happening.

“With this shooting that happened at the Legion Hall a couple ago, folks, I want to be very clear with you there is an issue in Gainesville. Several of these individuals that we’ve talked to basically said we are at war, Duval vs. out west,” said the Gainesville Police Department Detective. “It is simply this disrespecting their territory.”

RELATED STORY: WATCH: Video obtained exclusively by TV20 shows the scene inside the American Legion Post as shots are fired

Slater said the passionate voices along with the ideas shared at the meeting could help in the effort to overcome this concerning trend.

“If we all work together, anything is possible. The sky is the limit we can turn this whole city around. It starts at home, it starts at home,” explained Slater.

He said the message he often shares with his son is, “trouble is easy to get into but hard to get out of.”

RELATED STORY: Teenage survivor of the American Legion Post shooting recounts the night that forever changed her

Slater explains it is crucial to guns off the streets. One of the things being discussed is a gun buyback program that would hopefully decrease gun violence among young people.

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