Community leaders search for solutions to recent gun violence

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP)– Continuing our coverage of a series of recent shootings in Springfield, 22News found out what challenges the community is facing as they look to eliminate the violence.

“This is very hard. This is very tough on them. This was a senseless murder, we can’t understand it and the mother’s just distraught over it,” said Tangela Clarke, aunt of the 23-year-old Darrell Jenkins who was shot and killed June, 4th.

Jenkins was gunned down at the start of June on Union Street, in Springfield. His body was found steps from his mother’s front door.

Two others were also killed by gunfire on Springfield streets in the last two weeks. Reminders of a family’s loss are visible here on Union Street where 18-year-old Lenezzia Clarke was shot and killed at the end of May, just days later two others were shot and wounded at the same address.

22News has tracked a total of at least 19 people shot and wounded in the city since the start of April.

“There’s not one root cause and that’s a big reason why it’s so hard to tackle the issue. The shootings that are happening are different. One could be over a girl, one could be over drug territory,” Chelan Brown, head of AWAKE a youth outreach program in the city, told 22News.

Brown argues that many of the witnesses of these crimes want to come forward but don’t always feel protected to do so.

While police urge those with information to come forward, Brown says it’s unclear whether the police have the funding to re-locate these witnesses once they do or if the witnesses don’t know what steps to take to get re-located.

Brown said a meeting is being planned between city leaders and law enforcement to try and clear those issues up.

Church leaders in Springfield are trying to motivate their congregations to stand up to city street violence.

At St. John’s Congregational Church in Springfield, Reverend Calvin McFadden is fronting an initiative he’s bringing to Springfield called ‘Eyes on the Streets.’

The goal is to open communication between witnesses of shootings and the police department.  McFadden expressed his frustration that those with information about these shootings are often afraid to come forward for fears of retaliation, and that effort is intended to change that.

Several events and vigils have taken place in the last few days as part of this initiative.  A gathering will take place Monday evening at 6:30 P.M. at the Centro Christiano Nacion De Jesus at 124 Sumner Avenue in Springfield.

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