Violent weekend in Baton Rouge raises concerns

Violent weekend in Baton Rouge raises concerns

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Bright red and white balloons shaped like hearts and stars mark a scene of death and violence on N. 37th Street. It was there where 48 hours of terror began in three different north Baton Rouge neighborhoods; four people shot in three different shootings.

It started with 23-year-old Trevor Washington who was gunned down Saturday after what Baton Rouge Police are calling a drug deal gone bad. The alleged shooter, 26-year-old Demond Sanders, was arrested shortly after.

"Everything doesn't have to revolve around a gun because that is something real serious," said Washington's friend Asheria Turner during a family gathering.

A few hours later on Sunset Hill Avenue 16-year-old Robert Thomas was shot and killed by his friend, 17-year-old David Edwards Jr. Police say the two were playing with a gun when it went off. Edwards was charged with negligent homicide.

Then, early Sunday morning police discovered two men shot to death at a home on Alliquipa Street, one body was inside the home while the other was in the yard. Police believe that 38-year-old Jamiya Owen and 34-year-old Jeff Baker got in a shootout and killed each other.

Residents living nearby say the violence has them so scared, they don't go outside after dark.

"We should be in at 5 o'clock. Everything should be done. You should be inside your home," said neighbor Patricia Batiste.

The deaths bring the total number of homicides in 2015 to seven; two are considered negligent homicide. This time last year, there were three.

These statistics also trouble area mentors, like John Smith with 100 Black Men. His organization is dedicated to providing young men with the role models, tools and guidance they need to succeed.

He says these three cases point to a lack of respect and ability to resolve conflicts.

"We all have to become engaged with our next door neighbors. We all have to become engaged with those persons we may not even know, talking about what are your goals in life and how can I help you accomplish your goals. But at the same time the people we're talking to has to be willing to sit down and listen," said Smith.

Smith says the key in impacting the city's youth is engaging everyone around them from, parents to teachers, to deliver the message that there are ways to work out problems without violence.

"In dealing with that situation you have to give them a scenario whereby they can walk away, they can feel good about themselves and they can go on with their life," said Smith.

He also said it's important for neighbors to work together. He says one frightened neighbor may not be able to do much, but a group can set new standards and expectations.

For more information or to get involved with 100 Black Men, click here.

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