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Rash of violent crime hits south St. Pete

Posted: 7:03 PM, Dec 16, 2015
Updated: 2015-12-17 00:03:34Z
A string of violence has plagued south St. Petersburg for the past few months. 
 
Tuesday night, gunfire in the area led to a high speed police chase.
 
The issues hit close to home for Assistant Police Chief Jim Previtera, who grew up in the city.
 
Previtera told ABC Action News he loves the community, which is why he decided to come back and serve on the force. He said the only way the issue of violence can be solved is for everyone in that community to take an active role in stopping crime.
 
Taina Rivera is still trying to come to terms with the murder of her 16-year-old son, Lennie. He was gunned down right in front of their home.
 
"I can't explain the pain I got, it's unexplainable. We just need to stop the violence. We need to stop killing one another," Rivera said.
 
It's a story all too common in this community. On Tuesday, 17-year-old Gabriel Wallace was shot and killed outside a home on 13th Avenue South. Investigators say the shooter in the case was only 18 years old. Officers said he fired the bullet over a simple argument.
 
Then on Wednesday morning, police investigating shots fired in the area were led on a high speed chase. The 20-year-old behind the wheel crashed into a home.
 
"I got up, looked outside and there were cops everywhere," said resident Ronnie Carroll.
 
Previtera hopes to make a difference.
 
"It's important to the chief and I and it's important to the mayor to put an end to this violence. To ensure that these young children, like that 4-year-old girl that witnessed the murder yesterday, don't have to see that kind of violence on their streets," Previtera told ABC Action News.
 
Previtera believes the change will have to start with those who live in the community: Stepping forward when they see a crime, speaking out when information is needed.
 
Rivera for one is still holding out hope that her son's killer will be found.
 
"I just need justice for my son. If someone knows anything please come forward," said Rivera.