BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — A little more than two months into the year and seven children have died in Birmingham from gunfire.
Now, city leaders are making a plea for the community to help police get justice for the families who lost young, loved ones.
“I’m tired of standing before you speaking about another child being taken from us,” Mayor Randall Woodfin said.
Woodfin and acting Police Chief Scott Thurmond said they need your help to bring justice for families who have lost loved ones to gun violence. This year alone seven children have died in the city because of this.
Detectives said they’re doing everything they can to find answers for these families – but solving these cases depends on people coming forward with information to lead to an arrest.
“It’s not that we’re unwilling to intervene or unable to, we’re never given the opportunity and it’s very frustrating,” Thurmond said. “They have to stop and think before they unlock that safe or take that gun lock out. Maybe this isn’t the right thing I should be doing right now.”
Thurmond said guns need to be locked up in the home – not left unattended where they could get in the wrong hands.
UAB mental health expert Dr. Martez Files said children being exposed to loss can cause emotions to run high.
“These types of experiences if you’re exposed to them and if it’s prolonged, they can have very real outcomes for your physical and mental health,” Files said.
Files said taking time to pause, breathe and think before acting is crucial when tensions are high.
“That’s not a magic pill, there’s not a formula for the conflict, but it is a formula for self-management that says if I can breathe, if I can think, I can better navigate conflict,” Files said.
He encourages people to open their homes to neighborhood children and to invite them to dinner to learn more about them and help provide a support system.
Woodfin said adults need to do better the community and help provide this support to youth.
“Whatever conflict you as an adult have with another adult should never lead to an innocent child being killed,” Woodfin said.
City leaders said they understand that people could be hesitant to come forward – and that’s why they have an anonymous tip line. You can call 205-254-7777 to try and help to bring closure for the families still looking for answers.