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'Enough is enough': St. Pete leaders call for an end to gun violence following string of shootings

Posted at 11:21 PM, Nov 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-29 10:37:18-05

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- “Enough is enough.” That was the message from leaders in St. Pete Saturday night, who are calling for an end to gun violence following a recent string of shootings in the city.

So far this year the city of St. Petersburg has lost 9 lives to gun violence.

“One of the murders was my cousin,” said St. Pete City Council Member Lisa Wheeler-Bowman.

Police believe 25-year-old Tyree Bell shot and killed innocent bystander Arnieceia Milton, 23. Police are still looking for Bell.

“Mother of two, a 3-month-old, 8-year-old son, here we go again,” said Wheeler-Bowman.

For Wheeler-Bowman, these shootings are hitting all too close to home.

“Whenever somebody is murdered in my community, it hurts me because I know what the mother feels like,” said Wheeler-Bowman.

She lost her son 12 years ago to an act of gun violence, and after a recent string of shootings in St. Pete, she joins other local leaders in saying, “enough is enough.”

“We’re gonna have to come together with a plan. Enough talking, we’re gonna do a little walking, and then we’re gonna start working,” said St. Pete City Council Member Deborah Figgs-Sanders.

They're starting the "Enough is Enough" campaign. A movement to focus on addressing the root causes of gun crime, which will seek to provide access to community resources and encourage economic support for the businesses along the 16th Street South corridor.

Figgs-Sanders says they would like to offer the businesses support in banking, insurance and legal assistance. They say, "in order to alleviate violence in our community, it is imperative to impact everyone living in it."

Local and state leaders held a peace rally down 16th Street South on Saturday evening, memorializing the 9 lives lost to gun violence this year, and calling on the community to step up after 5 people were shot in a 24-hour period earlier this week.

“If you see something, say something. Leave the guns alone. Put them down. Guns never solved any problems that we can solve through communication,” Said Senator Darryl Rouson, (D) District 19.

The St. Pete Police Department provided ABC Action News with this data to show how many gun crimes have occurred year-by-year since 2018:

  • 2018
    • 21 total homicides - 15 by guns
  • 2019
    • 17 total homicides - 13 by guns
  • 2020
    • 14 total homicides to date - 9 by guns

Leaders say that to solve the gun crime issue, police need tips, and local leaders need collaboration to help identify the root causes of the crime.

“Educate, inform, see what we can do programmatically and strategically to help our communities, because these are our children that are dying,” said Figgs-Sanders.

If you have any information on any of the recent crimes in St. Pete, the police department is asking you to call Crime Stoppers of Pinellas County at 1-800-873-TIPS.