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2 dead in Monday shootings as Tampa Police Chief implores for an end to gun violence

Tampa Police Chief provides updates on Monday shootings, implores stop to gun violence
Posted at 3:47 PM, Jun 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-07 17:58:01-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa Police Chief Mary O'Connor said two people died in separate shootings Monday as she implored the community to put an end to gun violence during a Tuesday press conference.

The shootings happened hours apart with the first taking place at a gas station near E. Columbus Drive and Republica de Cuba. O'Connor said the shooting stemmed from a weeks-long argument.

A 24-year-old man and a 15-year-old boy were involved in the shooting. O'Connor said the 15-year-old was hospitalized in stable condition, but the 24-year-old man was dead.

“Violence did not solve this problem,” O'Connor said.

The second shooting was near N. 35th Street and E. Chelsea Street where a 21-year-old man was killed. The chief said detectives have "promising" leads on everyone involved.

O'Connor said more details on both shootings will be released as they become available and both were shootings were not random.

She was joined Tuesday by community members including elected officials, police agencies, first-responders, community activists, and families of gun violence victims. All hoping to convince the community to stop the plague of shootings.

"This cannot continue," O'Connor said. “It takes all of us to make our community safer.”

O'Connor shared statistics of gun-related crimes taking place in Tampa and said six arrests have been made for felons in possession of illegal firearms in the first six days of this month. Additionally, a total of 78 guns were reported as stolen from unlocked vehicles this year alone.

"We, as a community, have to keep guns out of the hands of those who should not have them to begin with," O'Connor said. "Anyone illegally possessing a gun in the city of Tampa this summer will be arrested."

St. Petersburg police are dealing with their own set of gun related deaths. In 2020, they had 15 homicides. Ten of those where gun related.

2021 wasn't any better. Police worked 33 homicides with 30 of those related to guns. As of June 2022 eight people have died with seven of those by firearm.

Florida State House Representative Dianne Hart (D-61) joined O'Connor and said she accompanied officers at the scene of both shootings. She said this kind of violence needs to end and implored the community to step forward.

"We need you, if you see something, say something,” Hart said. "Please community, you have to do your part."

That is exactly what Lamaria Smith is doing. Her daughter Savannah was shot and killed while driving her car near Julian B. Lane park in Dec. 2021.

"It takes a lot for me to get out of bed and I say you know what you have got to keep going," Smith said.

She is now an advocate not only for her daughter who died, but Savannah's sister who lived and so many other parents who are living with loss.

"We have to come together as a community," Smith said.

In Tuesday's press conference a map was shown with red dots filling the city of Tampa with color. They were hot spots that showed the city's homicides and shootings. It's a map that Smith's daughter is now a part of.

"These are our kids, this is our future," she said. "If you all are killing our future what do we have left."

TPD asks anyone with information on the Monday shootings or information on illegal firearms to contact Tampa Police.