ST. LOUIS – Community leaders issue a dire warning as the City of St. Louis' murder rate continues to rise. The latest homicide victim was found by a child walking to school.
James Clark with Better Family Life says the African-American community must "own" this crisis and other ethnic groups must step up to help.
Clark says as community leaders and residents continue to march and demonstrate against crime in their communities, the City of St. Louis should brace itself for more violence unless community outreach is conducted in the most challenged neighborhoods.
Wednesday morning Bommarito Automotive SkyFOX was over the scene as a body was found by a child walking to school in the 4700 of North 20th Street.
Authorities say the victim had been shot to death.
Community leaders say it’s frightening to know this is a harsh reality some children in American face each and every day. "It goes to underscore the crisis we find ourselves in right now. We have an entire generation now who have grown up and that`s all they have ever seen and witness. They have no understanding of a peaceful community. So, to have this young man to have to witness a horrific," said Clark.
Police are also searching for a gunman in North St. Louis after a 5-year-old boy was grazed by a bullet around 10 pm Tuesday on Lucille Avenue.
Earlier that day a 14-year-old girl was shot in the arm in a separate incident on O'Fallon Street.
Clark says there is an outcry in the African-American community for the violence to end.
"We must take a stand and teach this next generation that African-American killing and African-American robbing and African-American disrespecting each other must not be passed down to a third generation. We must own it and we must own it now."
St. Louis police reported 172 murders for the 2017 calendar year.
Clark says Better Family Life has been working in the community for more than 15 years trying to shift the culture in St. Louis in the most dangerous neighborhoods away from violence.
"St. Louis should expect this trend to continue until we do the necessary mobilizing, until we do the necessary to do the outreach. We got to begin in the neighborhoods on the front porches."
Authorities say crime did go down in parts of the city where community outreach programs are implemented.
Clark says organizers will continue to go door to door in various neighborhoods, but he says it's going to take an entire community working together to help end the violence.