St. Louis Public Safety Director discusses recent spate of gun violence

Missouri

ST. LOUIS – Three people were killed and at least 15 people were shot over a violent weekend in the St. Louis area – many of them teenagers.

Dan Isom, St. Louis City’s new Public Safety Director, says he’s working with police to deploy resources to help fight crime. But he cautions it’s a process that will not happen overnight.

“Very difficult weekend in St. Louis with the gun violence and their families, and it’s always distressing when you have violence in the community,” Isom said.

A teenage boy among this weekend’s victims, killed at Biddle and Tucker Sunday afternoon. He was the seventh teenager shot over the weekend.

“Both our victims and our suspects are young. We are trying to find ways in which we can engage these young people and move them in a different direction,” Isom said. “Need to give them something to do, like jobs. If you have a job, you won’t pick up a gun. Those are important things we need in our community.”

St. Louis Police are echoing the former police chief’s concerns.

“Why do we have young kids roaming around downtown? And I’m talking young kids. It’s a recipe for disaster,” said Lt. Col. Mary Warnecke, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department’s commander of community policing.

“We have parents who drop them off, thinking it’s a fun event and a place to hang out. We have unsupervised kids—sometimes 100 kids, young teens—that is not responsible.”

Police say with the heat and weather, authorities are gearing up for what could be a long summer.

“We typically do have more violence in June, July, and August; and, of course, people are in the street longer,” Isom said. “We have a plan, it’s not going to happen overnight. We believe what we are doing will have an impact over time.”

The department is reporting 81 murders since the beginning of the year; at the same time last year, the city reported 78 murders.

Police are encouraging anyone with information about the recent shootings to contact CrimeStoppers at 866-371-TIPS.

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