BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The number of people murdered in Baton Rouge each year continues to drop, compared to a violent high in 2012.
Records show there were 21 fewer murders in 2014 than two years ago. One woman who lives in the middle of one of the battle zone areas said she has seen a difference.
Seabell Thomas clutched a Rosary and shook it as she talked about her neighborhood. She lives in the once dreaded 70805 zip code in Baton Rouge. It's an area targeted by a special force of police and members of law enforcement under the Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination project, known as BRAVE for short.
"When BRAVE was first put in the community, the priest and I went and knocked on doors and prayed for people and were so happy to have prayer come to their door - we saw a drop," Thomas said, alluding to statistics that show crime in the 70805 area is down.
East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore points to 2012, a particularly violent year in Baton Rouge. Moore said since then, there have been 20 fewer murders a year.
"Seeing the results, It's a really good feeling that somebody didn't die possibly because of something you and a whole bunch of others that work real hard did," Moore said.
Murders in Baton Rouge are slightly down compared to last year. Official numbers will be announced once agencies gather and submit them to the FBI. However, a count by WAFB lists 73 homicides in East Baton Rouge Parish, but those numbers also include killings ruled by authorities to have been justified.
Moore credits the efforts of BRAVE, but also the media for broadcasting the stories behind the murders to make them more real to people. He added the people in the neighborhoods have also helped.
"I've got to give the community credit. They got behind this. Obviously, not everyone listens because we've had enforcement actions and our goal is to continue to get the message to them, give them a second chance and hopefully, they just put the gun down," Moore explained.
Thomas also hopes they put down their guns and pick up a cross.
"This is a weapon," she said while holding her rosary. "We are going to be better."
The official numbers from the FBI should be released within the next few months.