NORFOLK, Va. - Local leaders and the Stop the Violence Team are calling on the community to put down the guns. Local leaders say they are concerned with the recent uptick in gun violence in Hampton Roads after four children were shot Friday, July 2.
"When there is a shooting and it involves a child. Being a father myself, you think about your own children and you get emotional and angry. I have to remind myself I’m the Chief of Police. There are things I want to say as a father but I can’t say and I feel for the families," Chief Larry Boone said, the Police Chief of Norfolk.
Police Chief Boone says Friday’s shooting hit close to home after a senseless shooting injured four children ages 6 to 16 on Friday. This incident is the most recent in a number of violent events across Hampton Roads.
"When children are 14 and 15 years old. That is going to require parents or head of households being more engaged and more willing to report or call to do something before it's too late," Norfolk's Mayor Kenny Alexander said.
Police, religious leaders, and civic groups all gathered to call for unity in the community at a Stop the Violence rally. Mayor Kenny Alexander says it’s going to take the entire community to address the recent uptick in gun violence.
"It's going to take all of us, a collective. There are some groups that will probably never come together on any issue but they are here on this issue," Mayor Alexander said.
Chief Boone says the problem lies within the number of guns on the streets.
"One of the things I’ve noticed is our victims and our suspects are getting younger and younger. It's easier for them to get their hand on a gun than they can a job application," Chief Boone said.
Bilal Muhammed, the chairperson of Stop the Violence, says the only pathway to healing involves coming together to find a solution like developing programs to keep kids out of trouble.
"We need to put activities in place so that our children can stay busy doing constructive things throughout the whole summer," Muhammad said.
All of the local leaders are calling on the community to come together.
"Our children are 12 percent of our population but they are 100 percent of our future. We need a vaccine for the killings that have been going on for far too long in the community," Pastor Terrance Williams of Out of the Box Ministries said.