HAMPTON— Community leaders are fighting back against youth violence, after a weekend shooting that killed a teenager and injured four others.
“This past weekend’s shooting brought an issue to the forefront, and we need to take action now,” Councilman Will Moffett said.
Saturday afternoon, more than 100 people attended the meeting at Y.H. Thomas Youth Center, Members of City Council, the mayor, city manager, police chief, the commonwealth’s attorney, school officials, local clergy, business leaders and concerned families attended the forum.
“When you see teens doing something wrong, come and approach them,” resident Phyllis Rodriquez remarked.
Rodriquez explained her 19-year-old son was shot and killed in December. She says she felt obligated to attend the meeting to fight the rise in youth violence.
Police say Saturday’s shooting grew out of a verbal altercation between two groups, but the fight escalated when the suspects pulled out a gun. Officers say 16-year-old Ralphael Davis Jr was killed and four other teens were shot. The city’s carnival was shut down a week early due to the crimes.
Michele Woods Jones, executive director of Hamptons Citizens Unity Commission, says he has already asked the volunteer members of the city’s diversity boards to join the effort. The Citizens Unity Commission, Citizens Engagement Advisory Commission and Youth Advisory Commission are assets with wide reach in the community, Jones said.
Moffett noted that the problem of youth violence is not unique to Hampton, “Youth violence is a community issue, and the community needs to address it. Government can’t solve it, although it can be one part of the solution.”