Jersey City residents suggest solution after rash of shootings puts neighborhood on edge

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JERSEY CITY, N.J. — After a series of shootings in a matter of days, the city tries to find ways to ensure that a spate of gun violence comes to a quick end.  The city is not New York; it's Jersey City, which has, of late, experienced a much higher per capita volume of shootings.

They're causing leaders and residents to ask what more can be done in New Jersey's second largest city, as well throughout the region, to stem gun violence.

"Usually, this park is crowded," said Zaida Sohos, referring to Audubon Park here, which across the street from her apartment building.  "Everybody is afraid to go outside."

She described the situation that had been just outside her window.

Last Thursday, she'd snapped cellphone pictures from the windows of her apartment of a double shooting in the park across the street.

The crime left Tyrell Franklin, 28, dead, and another man in critical condition.

"It's traumatizing the kids," Sohos told PIX11 News. "They feel they can't go in there."

She said that she intends to move out soon.  The shootings were part of a recent series of incidents of gun violence  in New Jersey's second largest and fastest growing city.

Over a 48 hour period in the past week, Jersey City has had seven shootings.

While that's certainly not good, when viewed in perspective, it's far worse.

Those seven shootings took place in a city of about 260,000 people.

By contrast, New York City, which has a population of 8.4 million had a series of shootings on Sunday, in which eight people were injured.  In other words, Jersey City has had to deal with one shooting per 37,000 thirty-seven residents in a 48 hour period.

At worst, by contrast, the NYPD, has most recently had to handle over a similar period of time, work one shooting per one million people.

"Get the guns off the streets.  Too many guns," said a resident at the corner of Winfield and Ocean Avenues, where one of the shooting incidents of the last week took place.

Crime scene tape was still on the sidewalk Monday morning.

Jersey City Police said they did not have anyone available to comment in person about the situation.

However, a police spokesperson said by phone that the department has recently increased the number of officers by 30 to 40 percent in the Greenville neighborhood and elsewhere in Jersey City's south and west sides, where much of the violence has taken place.

Some residents, though, say that's not enough.  They're calling for more involvement by both the police and by the community.

Kelvin Davis, Jr. was in the park on Monday where Tyrell Franklin had been fatally shot four days before.  Davis, however, was there for a positive reason.

"They could be selling drugs right across the street," he said about a group of about a half dozen preteens with whom he was playing basketball.  Davis works with the young people as part of his church's outreach program.

He happens to also know the residual effects of homicide firsthand.

His coworker, Rondell Rush, a high school intern, was gunned down a month ago.

Davis was in mourning then, but now he's back to mentoring young men in a program founded by his own mentor, Antoine Carrington, a  local public school teacher in special education.

"I see a lot of kids come with a world of problems," said Carrington.

Handling those problems, said Davis, is what mentoring can do. Davis says it has to be supplemented with more visible police support.

"We have to feel safe," he told PIX11 News. "We don't feel safe.   We come together to feel more safe."

He added that programs like his, carried out in an environment made safer by police, can make the neighborhood and the city that much safer.  If the community isn't helping itself, Davis said, "nobody is."

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