Nearly 75 members of the Springfield community brought their concerns to police on Wednesday during a neighborhood meeting following two fatal shootings during Labor Day weekend.
A 30-year-old woman was fatally shot while sitting on a friend’s porch hours after a 7-year-old boy was shot and killed while attending his cousin’s birthday party around the corner.
The killings were two of five that happened during a holiday weekend when 12 people were shot.
The community meeting – with English and Spanish translations – took place at Iglesia Pentecostal Ebenezer Church, which had standing room only despite an early-evening rainstorm.
Officers encouraged neighbors to share anything they know about the killings. They also sought to strengthen ties among neighbors to prevent crime, including trying to create a neighborhood watch.
“The most important thing is to get involved, to take ownership,” said Capt. Chris Dozier, who heads the Steele Creek division that includes Springfield. “You should not be afraid to let your children or grandchildren out in the yard to play. It’s your neighborhood.”
The Rev. Othoniel Valentin, pastor at the church, said he had been encouraging his parishioners and others in the community to speak up if they know something about the shootings.
“We need people to come out and be brave and just talk,” Valentin said.
Edward Reese, who told reporters he’d lived in the neighborhood since 1977, said it was time for neighbors to be more proactive about preventing crime.
“We can’t stop it totally,” Reese said, “but we can have some effect. I hope (the killings) will be a wake-up call as far as not being fearful. We have blacks, we have Hispanics, we have whites. Let’s all be involved because it affects all of us.”