Community concerned about recent shootings

Gun violence continues in the northern neighborhoods of West Palm Beach, where some people say they often hear gunshots.

"We're in a circle it's like a vicious circle that surrounds us," said Jerlean Daniels, who lives along Division Avenue near where a shooting happened early Friday morning.

"My roommates have heard lots of shootings. Whether the person died or not, I don't know, but yes a lot of gunshots," said Dale Koylan, who lives on Douglass.

Police reported six shootings around the area in October.

They've now arrested 25-year-old Mardaris Brown in connection with Friday morning's shooting on Division Avenue and Sixth Street, which injured a pedestrian, who will survive.

Daniels is worried about the young people involved in all of the violence.

"Now it's all about killing one another just over nothing," she said. "These boys haven't even made it to 30-years-old yet."

21 people have died this year from gun violence in the city. 23 people have been murdered in total. If that continues, this could be the city's deadliest year in recent history.

"It concerns me greatly," said Commissioner Paula Ryan, who represents District 3 on the West Palm Beach City Commission. "I think that we have an obligation to do everything we can possibly do within our toolbox to address this."

Ryan said the neighborhood needs a multi-faceted approach.

"It may seem that we're not doing things sometimes, but we are, but I think that this is telling us that we really have to do more," Ryan said.

The city is in the process of improving its camera surveillance system, which had problems two years ago. 15 newly-installed cameras are supposed to have better video quality and resolution. 16 more cameras should be installed by the end of the year.

"We're finally reaching a point where we now have the technology or the infrastructure to expand upon that," Ryan said.

Ryan said even private property owners are offering to put cameras up on their buildings.

"That enables us to put our technology on their structure and when that happens, we've got more eyes on the street," she said.

A camera along Division Avenue near the intersection with Sixth Street that may have been able to capture the shooting that happened Friday morning isn't part of the city's system. It's on a Florida Power and Light pole, but it doesn't belong to FPL either.

However, Ryan said more needs to be done beyond surveillance and policing.

She said it starts in the community. The neighborhood needs affordable housing and a robust housing plan, more investment, job creation, and most of all, support.

"When you start to develop opportunities to bring in more people, you start to see different options that these young kids are being exposed to and making different choices," she said.

Ryan said she expects the recent shootings to come up at the next county commission meeting on Monday at 5 p.m.

"As you begin to heal the community and provide those resources you see amazing changes," Ryan said. "They don't happen overnight, but you have to start with building on an affordable housing strategy, an educational strategy, and a health strategy."

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