Hazleton Crime Watch Seeks More Volunteers after Violent Week

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HAZLETON – Organizers with the Northeast Hazleton Crime Watch told Newswatch 16 that they are seeking more volunteers and that they plan on gauging community interest to see if residents want to restart a local Guardian Angels chapter.

Vilmarie Budde said the possibility of restarting the Guardian Angels and recruiting unarmed, citizen foot patrollers will be discussed at the Crime Watch meeting on March 19 at the American Legion Post 76 on East Diamond Avenue.

Franklin Gomez told Newswatch 16 that he is upset by the recent crime in his hometown and that he still can’t believe that his friend, Angel Villalobos, was shot and killed in the city on Saturday night.

"Every year we have people getting shot, people getting killed. You know what I'm saying, we do need changes,” said Gomez. "Things are going crazy now. Back then, this wasn't like this. When I moved in here, everything was peaceful. All of a sudden, friends have been getting shot lately. Things (are) getting worse."

A man from East Stroudsburg was arrested and charged on Monday, accused of shooting a man in the leg who was driving and leading police on a foot chase.

Helen Ramirez said she’s concerned about her three daughters being exposed to violence in the city and that she’s hopeful that more volunteers will step forward and help patrol the streets of Hazleton.

"Now we have to leave the kids inside the house, even with summertime because we are worried about a lot of stuff that is happening,” said Ramirez. “When I came here a couple of years ago, there used to be more quiet and less people. There used to be a nice playground for the kids. Now, we have to worry a lot.”

Hazleton Police Chief Frank DeAndrea said the investigation into the deadly shooting on Saturday continues and that homicide charges have not yet been filed.