Violence continues to plague a Petersburg neighborhood where six people have been killed in less than two weeks.
This week, loved ones buried four people found dead in a burned out home on Harding Street. Then, hours after their funeral, one of the pallbearers was shot and killed and two more were wounded.
Late Monday afternoon, Petersburg police said they are increasing their presence in the area. Authorities said a curfew will be enforced for anyone under 17 from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. This does not apply to people who are attending school events or work, or those accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Police will also setting up traffic checkpoints and enforcing nuisance laws including loitering.
It's a neighborhood in a constant state of mourning. Right now two memorials mark the sites where five people died within a week of each other, the latest happening Sunday morning when Akeim Easter was found shot to death on a porch in the 600 block of Harding Street. Another person was injured in the shooting as well.
Easter's niece, Kawanda Tucker, is now planning the funeral and collecting donations. "It makes me clench because this generation is…I don't know what it's coming to," she said.
Over the past two weeks, there have been four homicide or attempted homicide investigations in the area. Six out of the eight victims, including a toddler, are dead. The investigations include two on Harding Street, one on Kentucky Avenue and another shooting on Saint Luke Street.
"I think all of us, the citizens of Petersburg, has a responsibility for the killing that has taken place," said Samuel Batts, deacon at Tabernacle Baptist Church on Halifax Street--a church situated right in the middle of all the violence. Batts said the church community is attempting to restore hope, part of their plan includes building affordable homes on Harding Street and the neighboring area.
"In the next year or two, hopefully we'll start building in this area," said Batts.
The church has already purchased the land for a number of vacant and dilapidated houses. "If you give people a reason to live or a reason to improve themselves, they will," he said.
Tabernacle Baptist has already built a learning center and senior housing in the neighborhood. Much of the money comes from grants or the city, but Batts says the church is always looking for more financial help.
Petersburg police said they will be holding a community problem-solving and solution-sharing intensive meeting.' Police and Community Together (PACT) will be held on Saturday, May 31 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Petersburg Library at 201 W. Washington Street. To RSVP, citizens can call 863-2703.
Law enforcement agencies are still looking for Alexander Hill Jr., the person of interest in the quadruple homicide on Harding Street. There is a $5,000 reward for information that helps police find Hill. Anyone with information about Hill's whereabouts can call the U.S. Marshals Service anonymously at 1-877-WANTED2.
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