Saturday, June 22

‘Something needs to be done’: Fort Pierce leaders voice need for change

There is a continued push for solutions in Fort Pierce after yet another shooting.

Saturday, police said a 16-year-old girl was shot and taken to the hospital after an “altercation” near the Lincoln Park Community Center.

A community leader told WPTV the girl was walking by the community center and that there was not an event going on.

Police said the girl was released from the hospital. It’s the eighth shooting, which WPTV has covered, within a month in the city’s northwest neighborhood. Those shootings injured at least 10 people and multiple victims are under 18 years old.

“Thats one of my biggest concerns,” said James Monds, regarding the gun violence.

Monds son, Jaylyn Monds, was nearly an unintended target of a shooting himself.

Monds said his 4.7 GPA student, who will play football at Eastern Michigan University in the fall, was at a high school graduation party a few weeks ago where police said five people, including three teenagers, were shot.

“Yeah, that was a scare for me, just to know that he and my younger son were at this party where a kid just came in shooting,” said Monds. “I feel like I shouldnt have to worry about that.”

For weeks, WPTV has voiced concern from residents over recent gun violence.

This latest shooting was feet away from where the 11U All Star Little League baseball team was supposed to play this upcoming weekend.

The day after the shooting, the game was moved to Citrus Grove Park in Martin County.

Tournament organizers declined to say why, but the decision came after some parents voiced concern over a lack of security on social media.

Monds said he believed part of the problem is the hiring cost of security.

“Why some of these places arent manned the way they should be manned,” saids Monds.

WPTV reached out to officials with Fort Pierce, St Lucie County, The Police Department and the Sheriff’s Office.

A county spokesperson said county officials have had recent conversations with the city about potentially increasing security at community events, but haven’t set anything in motion.

This past spring, commissioners did approve the installation of cameras in county parks and allocated that money to the sheriff’s office, who’s now in charge of installing them.

We reached out to St. Lucie County Sheriff Keith Pearson, who returned our call for comment and left a voicemail, but didn’t call us back when we returned his call three times.

Something has to be done,” said Aisha Nash of the St. Lucie County NAACP.

Nash reached out after seeing WPTV’s story with the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition’s Raysean Brown, who WPTV’s Kate Hussey connected with city leaders to potentially bring in a program to mitigate violence.

Brown told Hussey Monday he spoke with City Manager Nick Mimms, who seemed excited about the program and added the two were working on setting up a formal, in-person meeting.

Nash said she believed there needs to be more done to solve the issue.

“The solution has to be multi-faceted,” said Nash, “and I think that they only way were going to curb the violence is to keep it at the forefront.”

In an interview with WPTV’s Joel Lopez a week ago, Mimms said the city is also looking at working with other organizations aside from the FRRC, including the St. Lucie County Roundtable.

“And another group called the Circle of Brotherhood,” said Mimms on June 3.

The city of Fort Pierce responded back to WPTV and again emphasized Lincoln Park Regional Park and Lincoln Park Community Center are managed by St. Lucie County.

“For events held at city-owned facilities in Fort Pierce, the Fort Pierce Police Department reviews each special event application to determine the necessary level of security, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience for all attendees. This process reflects our commitment to public safety and community well-being,” said Communications and Marketing Manager Kaitlyn Ballard in an email.

She did clarify, however, that the city of Fort Pierce does not review or receive special event notices for facilities or events managed by St. Lucie County.

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