Community reaches out to help police stop gang shootings

Local

Police booking records show the 18-year-old suspect in a shooting this week was a victim earlier in the week in what police call a gang-related series of shootings.

“We had a drive-by shooting where a 7-month-old child was struck with a bullet fragment… and a 2-year-old was shot in the foot,” says Lt. Jeff Gilmore with the Wichita Police Department. “Both, still under investigation. And we also had another drive-by earlier in the week on west Dayton street here in Wichita, we also believe was related to those as well.”

Police say families are not being cooperative in giving officers facts in the cases.

Pastor Roosevelt DeShazer is trying to get police more information, as fast as he can.

“Not everybody is comfortable talking to police,” says DeShazer, pastor at Progressive Missionary Baptist Church. “I’m very prayerful and very hopeful that somebody at some point if they don’t want to talk to the police, we made (ourselves) available, come talk to the God Squad. Come talk to a church pastor. Talk to somebody, cause this is really getting out of hand.”

Deshazer says the disturbing trend he sees is the age of the gang-related kids.

“Now it’s a lot of young kids doing things. They’re able to get guns easily,” says DeShazer. “And so the first thing to pop into their mind is to pull a gun. If there’s any kind of confrontation or anything the first thing they do is pull a gun.”

DeShazer says some of the kids are as young as 10 to 12 getting involved with gangs. And, he says, he continues to talk to police.

But, he also is planning to do more. 

“Yes, we’ve spent a lot of hours and hours working on cutting the violence,” says DeShazer. “Kids do not put value in a human life, and they are not plugged into church as they used to be.”

Police are asking for tips to come into Crime Stoppers at 316-267-2111 as they continue to put all the resources they have into solving the crimes. But they are also asking the public to do more, while pastors gather new plans to get even more involved.

“I’m talking grandparents, aunts, those that are older we are going to have to really get a hold of our kids and talk to them and convince them there is a better way and they don’t have to kill and they don’t have to be so angry,” says DeShazer.

DeShazer is planning on walking the community in all areas of Wichita and reaching out to other churches to do the same thing, starting now.

“A lot of our young people do not feel like they feel valued,” says DeShazer. “And it’s time we let them know just how valuable they are.”

Lt. Gilmore says the WPD is reaching out to everyone from the Kansas Attorney General to other local, state and federal partners to do what they can. They also have the Violent Crimes Community Response Team. That team in the last six months has made more than 385 gang contacts, seized 69 guns and created 232 cases.

“These cases are tough, especially when you’re investigating gang members where you don’t get a lot of cooperation,” says Lt. Gilmore. “If you’re a citizen in the community and you know of something that occurred, it may not seem important to you but it could be very important to the investigation.”

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