BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — A rash of violence over the weekend has law enforcement agencies in Birmingham and Jefferson County on alert.
The latest outbreak began Sunday night with six people shot at Birmingham’s Patton Park, one of them, police called an innocent by-stander died. It continued with two more homicides overnight. Now, law enforcement pleading with the public for answers.
On Thursday, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office addressed the media to request citizens to rally for their communities in the prevention of violent crimes. Officials emphasized that if you find yourself in a heated exchange, to remove yourself from the situation or contact 911 before it escalates.
“We need people to stand up again today to make sure that they can take back their communities,” Jefferson County Sheriff Mark Pettway said. “We are there for them. We are going to make sure that the communities get restored to the way they were when I was growing up.”
Local members of the clergy joined the JCSO to preach against violence and to rally communities to make a difference.
“We march together to give our communities a voice and volume,” said Pastor Harold W. Bass of Clergy Concerned for the Community. “To let our communities know that they have someone in the trenches that are fighting on their behalf on a daily basis.”
Pettway continued to emphasize the importance of taking a stand in the community.
“We want to ensure that communities are restored so that the kids can play, people can sit on their porch, drink coffee, and read the newspaper” said Pettway. “We want those things to happen. So that you can go to school and not worry about anything happening to you, or go to the store or to church. We want to make sure that the community is safe all the way around.”
Earlier that day, BPD Chief Patrick Smith that since Saturday, seven people had died to gun violence while 10 had been wounded.
“I stand before you with a very heavy heart, a very heavy heart because I know that this is useless violence…that did not need to happen,” Smith said.
Discussing his own reaction to the Patton Park shooting, Smith said he and the department were pleading with the community to help them bring those responsible to justice.
“We cannot do this without you,” Smith said. “It is my hope that you will work with this department.”
Smith said he welcomes anyone with video or evidence in the case to come forward.
Organizations dedicated to ending gun violence are joining forces with law enforcement agencies.
“The fact of the matter is we have a big gun violence problem in the city of Birmingham and surrounding areas so we have been working on common sense measures things we can do within the community to prevent that,” said Karen McClure with Moms Demand Action.
Law enforcement officials stressed the importance of using the Crime Stoppers resource. When you provide a tip, not only will you be entirely anonymous, but you will also receive a reward, officials stated. They made it a point to note that their board approves rewards on a weekly basis so that tippers will get money quickly.
Crime Stoppers of Metro Alabama can be reached at 205-254-7777.