COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH)–After several children were shot last week, Columbus communities are still searching for answers.
A 5-year-old was shot in the Linden area last Friday. Hours earlier, 5- and 7-year-old siblings were shot in the Milo-Grogan area. A 4-year-old was hit with shrapnel.
Tonight at Easthaven Elementary, parents and neighbors gathered to talk about how they can have an impact against crime in their neighborhood.
Felicia Saunders’ son Anthony Sowers was murdered in 2009. A man was convicted, but only for a weapons charge–not murder, because witnesses wouldn’t talk.
Instead of sinking into bitterness, Saunders said, she decided to get involved.
“I decided to take my pain and turn it into something positive by starting the block watch in this community,” said Saunders. She is the president of the Easthaven Block Watch and Civic Association.
Police said tips and witnesses willing to talk have a major impact on convictions.
“We definitely have some issues with the lack of cooperation,” said Homicide Detective Martin Kistner with Columbus Police.
He said neighbors’ eyes and ears can help stop crime in its tracks.
“If people don’t come forward that person is going to continue doing what he does, unchecked, until someone comes forward and talks to us,” Detective Kistner said.
Saunders said it takes time to change the way people think.
“There is this code in the street called “snitches get stitches,” well, to me, that needs to die. Because if you have a loved one shot in the back because he was trying to keep the peace between two people that had a beef with each other, why not speak on that?” said Saunders.
Saunders said tips can help solve the murder of Jamel Cribbs, 36, and Jamilia Gammon, 22, in 2012, just around the corner from the Block Watch meeting. Both victims were found wrapped in plastic by a maintenance man.
Police say regardless of the crime, people watching out can have an impact.
“If we don’t have cooperation from the public we are stuck,” said Detective Kistner.
Police ask anyone with crime tips to call 614-461-TIPS or 614-645-4545.