Gun violence is a growing concern for law enforcement in NCFL

Published: Aug. 4, 2021 at 4:39 PM EDT
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OCALA, Fla. (WCJB) - At least six men in Ocala have died due to gun violence this year, according to the National Gun Violence Memorial.

It’s a growing problem law enforcement officials have been facing for a long time.

The shooting in the Paddock Mall parking lot is just one of several incidents that police have had to investigate so far this year, many of them involving young people.

Police officials said both victims were in the car when they were shot in the Paddock Mall parking lot, and that the shooter and victims knew each other.

The Department of Children and Families now has custody of a baby who was in the car.

“Be responsible gun owners right, secure your fire arms. These are absolutely ending up in the hands of juvenile offenders who are using them to commit crimes that took place right behind me today,” Police Chief Mike Balken told reporters Tuesday evening at the crime scene.

RELATED: Paddock Mall evacuated after a shooting in the parking lot injured two people

It seems like there’s almost too many incidents to count. Within the last 14 days, Ocala police have dealt with at least five different gun related incidents.

A representative of the Washington Prime Group which owns the Paddock Mall, sent us this statement:

“At Paddock Mall the safety of our guests, retailers and employees is our top priority. We are working closely with the Ocala Police Department as they actively investigate this isolated incident. Our team immediately implemented safety protocols and we continue to cooperate with all police procedures. We would like to thank the Ocala Police Department for their quick response ensuring everyone’s safety. Paddock Mall will re-open for normal hours of operation on Wednesday, August 4. We will have increased security and local PD presence throughout the property. For more information, please contact the Ocala Police Department directly at (352) 369-7000.”

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