Baton Rouge residents react to violent morning

Baton Rouge residents react to violent morning

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Most evenings, you can find Baton Rouge resident Estelle Dunn sitting in the same place she has for nearly 60 years, on her front porch just off of Greenwell Springs Road.

"This is my den. My children think I'm lonely because I'm out here. They want to get me with those old people every day," said Dunn with a wink.

While she may have just celebrated her 80th birthday, "old" does not describe Dunn. Neither does lonely.  The great grandmother has watched the neighborhood grow and helped rear a few of the kids herself.

"I pray for everybody every night," said Dunn.

Dunn says most of the kids in her neighborhood are good and well behaved, but it wasn't long ago the longtime resident was in her usual spot when someone nearby opened fire.

"It sounded like a boom. Bam," said Dunn.

That night, the target was a road sign.  Dunn says a couple of boys ran off and she didn't hear anymore.

However, Wednesday night, just around the corner from Estelle's porch, it was a man who took the bullet.  The 36-year-old victim is listed in critical condition.  An hour and a half later, a few miles away, another shooting broke out, taking a life.  A third non-fatal shooting later in the morning rounded out a violent 12 hours in the city.  In all cases, the gunman are still on the run. Baton Rouge Police say the three spikes of crime were not related, but it is concerning to see so much in such a short time.  It's a concern that residents have carried for a long time.

"Nobody should have to fear going outdoors," said substance abuse counselor Renetta Bell.  

New Hope Baptist Church runs a substance abuse program in an area of town that sees a lot of crime, which is why the executive director Bell says their work is so important.

"All of the violence in the community is directly related to the drugs and alcohol abuse and lack of education, lack of employment, and job skills in this area," said Bell.

New Hope also offers job training and job placement.  It is one of many churches working to address the needs of the community.

A few miles away, Beacon Light Baptist is reaching out to its congregation.  The pastor, Eric Williams, says they have lost young members to violence. He believes the city is suffering from a lack of trust and too much fear.

"It starts in the home because our kids don't have anything to believe in. I believe what you believe dictates how you behave. How you behave dictates what you become," said Williams.

According to the coroner, there have now been 55 homicides in East Baton Rouge Parish.  There have been 15 in the 70802 zip code and 10 in the 70805 zip code.

Williams and Bell agree that stopping violence in the city will take every person in every zip code working together.

"We got to get fed up. We have to get sick and tired of being sick and tired," said Williams.

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