ST. PETERSBURG, Fl. — The community is still trying to make sense of a deadly shooting in St. Pete at a “Guns Down, Gloves Up” boxing event this weekend. It follows a growing trend in gun violence in the city this year, as activists call on the community to help put an end to the problem.
St. Pete police say about 200 people were attending a boxing event when an altercation between two groups occurred and several shots were fired. So far, one person has been arrested. Police say one man died and four other people suffered gunshot injuries.
As of Monday afternoon, St. Pete police say one person is in critical condition and the other three are recovering.
The boxing event held in St. Pete was part of the "Guns Down, Gloves Up" movement, organized by the Neighborhood Boxing League.
“If you want to curb violence, then you have to work on finding solutions to ending that violence,” said Corey Givens Jr., a community activist.
Givens Jr. spoke to ABC Action News about solutions to the problem. Just last week, there was a community forum alongside law enforcement on the gun violence issue.
“The first step is one, communicating with each other about innovative solutions to ending the violence, and then two, actually enacting policies and procedures that would stop the gun violence,” said Givens Jr.
Givens Jr. explains we have to make sure that we’re working with law enforcement to educate communities on how to reduce gun violence, saying one step is educating people on how to keep their guns safe.
“One of the issues that we have in this community is the proliferation of illegal guns, and the reason we have so many illegal guns on our streets is that one, young people are breaking into cars and stealing them,” said Givens Jr. “We also have to begin talking about talking to our children about safety measures when it comes to guns because a lot of our kids are getting hands on guns thinking that this is a game. It’s not a game folks. We’re talking about human beings. We’re talking about lives.”
“The gun violence in St. Petersburg is indicative of the gun violence in the country, and I think the reality is we have to understand we didn’t get here overnight. We are still in the middle of a pandemic, and the hopelessness and despair is spilling over in our community,” said Rev. Kenny Irby, the Director of Community Intervention for the St. Pete Police Department.
Rev. Irby says gun violence is a public health crisis, explaining we have to be vigilant and intentional about providing positive opportunities for young people.
“The idea of us working together as a community is the only thing, the only path forward to help us overcome this, and that begins with education, with jobs, and positive relationships,” said Irby.
St. Pete Police say they’re still looking for possible suspects and searching for information in this shooting. Anyone with information is urged to call police at 727-893-7780 or text SPPD plus your tip to TIP411.
Community activists are putting out a call to action, asking people to work together and be the solution.
“If not, we’re just going to find ourselves sitting at another funeral, and that’s something that no parent should ever have to go through, no person should ever have to experience,” said Givens Jr.