SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Springfield police are still looking for those responsible for two murders in the past two days. 22News spoke with residents about what they think can be done to stop the violence.
“It’s just getting worse. It seems to be almost every day if someone’s not dying, they’re getting stabbed or shot. It’s getting worse every day,” said Desiree Rock, a former gang member who said she is proof people can turn their lives around. She now works as a member of the new Vanguard organization, that works toward peace in Springfield.
Springfield residents are concerned: There have been 9 murders in Springfield in 2014.
Just hours after an anti-violence rally Saturday, 22News got this video at the William DeBerry Elementary School. Springfield Police Sergeant John Delaney told 22News 26-year-old Lamar Kelly of Springfield was found shot along a walkway next to the school, between Monroe and Union Streets.
Witnesses didn’t want to share with us what they saw. Residents’ fear of retaliation makes it more difficult for police to find those responsible.
“I think they’re really scared of what they say snitching and talking,” Rock said.
Early Friday morning, there was another murder in Springfield. 44-year-old Jose Gonzalez of Chicopee was found with multiple gunshot wounds on the I-91 North on-ramp, right off of Plainfield Street. Friends who set up a memorial told 22News he was a really good guy.
Many organizations, like Eyes on the Street, are trying to offer ways witnesses feel safe reporting a crime.
“We’re hoping to develop some kind of mediator between the police and folks who would be willing to make note of the crime, because some people perhaps will talk to a pastor, or talk to another community leader, but not feel comfortable talking to police,” said Dr. Calvin J. McFadden, Senior Pastor at St. John’s Congregational Church in Springfield and advocate for the Eyes on the Street initiative.
The vanguards are also working to unite the city.
“It takes a community to do something about it. Law enforcement’s not going to do it. It’s going to take the people in the community to get it done,” Jose Morales, a Vanguard member, told 22News.
They hope the murder rate is lower in 2014 than the 19 reported homicides in 2013 and 12 in 2012.
Click here for an interactive list of the location and dates of the 2014 homicides.