Area leaders, law enforcement canvas Brookstown community to curb violence

Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Baton Rouge Police Department, the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office, the District Attorney's Office, and area pastors joined forces in the Brookstown neighborhood Monday to put a lid on the recent spike in crime.

Seeing blue lights on the street outside your home is normally a bad sign, but Henry Brock said Monday it was the total opposite along Evangeline Street. A group hit the pavement, knocking on doors and making a connection with the people inside. It's something Brock says he's not used to seeing.

"My girlfriend came up and thought something happened, so she just woke me up out of my sleep just to see what was going on," said Brock.

When he looked outside, Brock says what he saw was encouraging. "It's a good thing though, because you know you got somebody out there willing to help out for a family member or a neighbor or whoever's out there," Brock added.

The only crime scene tape on the street Monday was part of an elaborate Halloween display, but just a week ago, shots tore through the Capital City. Five different shootings erupted across Baton Rouge within a two hour span. The night of violence left two people dead and several others injured.

District Attorney Hillar Moore says the goal now is to get out in front of the recent spike in crime and show the community that there is a better way. "We want to let the people know that we care about them, we're here for them, and we want to do anything we can to help them," said Moore. "If we can just show a little kindness today, hopefully they can see we're all in this together."

Mike Haman, pastor of Healing Place Church, says seeing the city ravaged by violence is hard, but the answer to many of the problems is love, unity, and exactly what played out on Evangeline Street on Monday.

"I think acts like this help pull people out of their homes and helps build relationships," said Haman. "I think relationships are the key."

Tonja Garafola, widow of EBR Sheriff's Deputy Brad Garafola, was among those handing out free food. She calls the experience heartwarming and says above all, it's what her husband, who was ambushed and killed last July in an attack on law enforcement, would want.

"This is what my husband would have been doing. He lived his life helping people and I feel like it's my goal to fill his shoes," said Garafola.

Joined by Trenisha Jackson, widow of fallen BRPD Corporal Montrell Jackson, Garafola says the time to act is now and she encourages anyone who is able to join the effort.

WAFB's Scottie Hunter asked Garafola if she thought efforts similar to this would help.

"I hope so," she said. "I certainly hope so."

The event was organized by local marketing and advertising agent, Clay Young. He promises future events similar to this will take place in different parts of the city.

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