Sunday, May 19

Residents voice concerns after recent shootings in Fort Pierce

Residents of Fort Pierce are voicing concerns after two deadly shootings that claimed the lives of an 18-year-old and a 24-year-old over the weekend.

The first shooting happened on Avenue C and 23rd Street. Fort Pierce police said 18-year-old Jackson Romanello was shot to death in a parked car.

Its not comforting, Guy Wright said, who lives next door.

The second shooting happened at Maravilla Dog Park where a 24-year-old was shot and killed. Multiple people told WPTV that it happened during a baby shower.

WPTVs Kate Hussey took concerns to the city she shares what’s being done to mitigate the violence.

This isnt the neighborhood for that, you know? I cant imagine that, Diane Dueker said. We all come here, and sometimes there are 8, 9, 10, 11 dogs in the evening time.

Police couldnt say if the shootings were targeted or random but say theyre not related.

Residents said they feel unsafe.

I really do, Wright said.

According to the FBIs latest crime data from 2019, about 56 other Florida cities have higher crime rates than Fort Pierce and in the county, crime has consistently declined year after year.

Still the citys average violent crime rate is nearly three and a half times the state average.

 

Its heartbreaking for sure, Faith in Florida Community Organizer Alisia Harriel said.

Harriel is one of many putting boots on the ground to curb crime and she believes more needs to be done at the community level to help bridge the gap.

I do believe that we need to allocate money into our city and countys budget to reduce violence and gun violence in our community, Harriel said.

Funding is an obstacle for Jen Champagne too. A year ago she and other community members tried to reinstate Troop 772 of the Boy Scouts Of America to keep kids out of trouble. However, those efforts come with a cost.

Having a Boy Scout troop is pretty expensive, she said.

Champagne and others are instead working with fort pierce police to reinstate the first step program – engaging with kids in parks to keep them on the right path.

The joy and the anticipation in their faces, thats what keeps us going, she said. Even though we do still come across so many barriers, theres something we can do now instead of wait.

In addition, this year the county did unveil security cameras in public parks to increase safety and Harriel said police officers have partnered with Faith In Florida too by reading to kids and providing peer support for families.

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