Ft. Pierce residents join forces to stop violence - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Ft. Pierce residents join forces to stop violence

By Jana Eschbach bio|email
Posted by Rachel Leigh email

FORT PIERCE, FL (WFLX) - A big community response to stop the violence in northern Fort Pierce.

"Alright, glad to meet you all, glad to see you all." said a resident to the Guardian Angels on safety patrol. Treasure Coast Guardian Angels one of 100 community groups trying to help police take back the streets.

With four shootings since Saturday, two of them fatal, police say, the gang violence and shootings must stop. One 16-year-old boy was shot dead waiting for his school bus.

Police are saturating the community with officers on special shifts, patrolling bus stops, and community groups are alerting parents of gang members to a very serious problem.

Operation Ceasefire involves not just police, but every willing volunteer in the area.

"We have an opportunity. Our community is upset about what happened. We have an opportunity to turn that anger into something positive for our community," said Fort Pierce Police Chief Sean Baldwin. "We are gonna pair officers up with pastors and community leaders, and they are going to go out in the community, and are going to serve warning letters to the parents of gang members."

"We are going to hold post out here every night until it is back to normal," Treasure Coast Guardian Angels' Steve Horton said, "It is not just law enforcement anymore, it is not the city officials, it is not just Guardian Angels, it is everybody has to work as a team. Come out. Get involved."

New laws help prosecutors give the maximum time to gang-related offenders up to life in prison.

"The gang-type cases are difficult to prosecute because obviously there's a code of silence." said Assistant State Attorney Tom Bakkedahl, "The level of violence has gotten extreme. just an absolute lack of uh, care or respect for anybody around them. They don't care who is harmed. Violence maybe the unintended consequences--they could care less who is injured in their actions."

The police chief is warning gangs, you will either spend life in prison, or end up dead.

"You have a choice to make.  Your violent behavior is destroying our community. It will either stop or you will spend your life in prison." Baldwin warned.

Life expectancy of a gang member is three years.

Community meetings to find solutions to the violence begin next week. For information on how to get involved in Operation Ceasefire: http://www.fppd.org/operation_ceasefire.php.

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