Trying to Solve the Violence Problem
Wilkes-Barre city officials continue with their grass root initiative, holding meetings with residents to find solutions for the recent rash of violent crimes.
The regularly scheduled “Building Bridges” meeting at Solomon/Plains Elementary School Thursday night came less than 24 hours after two teenagers were shot in the city.
Wilkes-Barre police said two 17-year-old boys are the latest caught up in a series of violent crimes in the city, as both were found with gunshot wounds under the South Street Bridge.
Fellow teens attacked are a 15-year-old boy with a machete in February, and a 14-year-old boy who was shot and killed in the city in April.
The two teens were shot less than 24 hours before a regularly scheduled meeting arranged by the city to discuss the growing amount of violence in Wilkes-Barre.
Many at the meeting held at Solomon/Plains Elementary School came armed with concerns.
“Now is this kid going to survive, the one who got shot in the back?” said Wilkes-Barre resident Joe DeBiase. “The other boy got shot in the leg, they`re not going to find the shooter.”
“I’m very concerned if everything keeps going on, there was another shooting last night and the teenagers are in trouble,” said Jettie Gibson of Wilkes-Barre.
The city began holding these meetings, called “Building Bridges”, after the shooting death of Tyler Winstead along Hill Street on April 5.
Authorities charged a 13 year old in connection with Tyler`s death in May.
On February 9, 15-year old Marquis Allen had his hand nearly severed after he was attacked with a machete while trying to break up a fight, near G.A.R. High School.
Authorities charged a 19 year old and a 16 year old in that attack.
The Wilkes-Barre police chief said the goal is to find solutions.
“Issues with parenting, issues with what is there to offer teens to do, how to do we get this boredom, how do we get this time off their hands with some constructive activities,” said Chief Jerry Dessoye.
Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis encourages residents to help law enforcement by being the eyes and ears on the street.
“Criminals aren`t scared of the police officers. They see them coming, they`re in uniforms, they have sirens. It`s the community that`s watching them that they are scared off,” said Salavantis.