LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Concerns from Little Rock leaders join calls from victim’s families after a quadruple shooting in a public park Sunday evening.
Two young girls and two men were shot in Cheatem Park at about 5:30 pm. One of the men died from his injuries.
City directors reacting to the news all agreed on one thing – something needs be done, and the focus should be on our youth.
With this being the third shooting in a city park in recent weeks, leaders are searching for a solution before it’s too late.
Gun violence was a topic of discussion at last week’s city board meeting. Director Doris Wright, Ward 6, pushed her ordinance declaring youth violence a crisis in the city, a move that would also ask for the creation of a youth violence prevention center and a partnership with the Derek Olivier Research Center at Arkansas Baptist College. It didn’t make a second reading.
But the focus on Little Rock’s youth and young adults is a common idea. Director Ken Richardson, Ward 2, says the solution must come from the community.
“It’s really sad and disheartening to see what’s happening in our community with young people,” Richardson said in a phone call. “It’s not anything we’ll be able to police our way out of.”
He proposes youth intervention and development programs along with conflict intervention teams to help with the root of the violence, and adds that preventing violence has to do with the youth, families, and then communities as a whole.
“If the village is sick,” he added, “it’s going to raise sick children.”
Director Joan Adcock’s first thought was also of Little Rock’s children.
“There’s nothing sadder, I don’t think, than a child that was injured while that child was out playing,” she said.
Adcock recalls this past Sunday and her own activities taking a 3-year-old to a park. Unbeknownst to her, that same day across town, another toddler was facing the unthinkable.
Adcock says the board needs to prioritize curbing violent crime. “I don’t think now’s the time to be trying to sell a sales tax,” Adcock stated, responding to one of the most discussed topics on the city board’s agenda. “Right now’s the time to come together as a community and look at what do we need to do to stop this.”
She suggests a good starting place would be to focus on the weapon of choice. “The only one thing they all have in common,” Adcock said about the recent killings, “is they have guns.”
Other city leaders had their own reactions. Vice-Mayor Lance Hines said, “we’re all very concerned about this at the board level,” and said the topic would be discussed at April 27th’s special session.
Director Antwan Phillips agreed, adding, “it’s heartbreaking all the way around,” and that he’s seen both sides of the issue, making this a priority for him.
City directors are expected to discuss the issue of youth violence during Tuesday’s special city board meeting. Director Wright’s crisis ordinance and the Mayor’s sales tax will also be tackled.
FOX16 reached out to Mayor Frank Scott, Jr. and Little Rock Police Chief Keith Humphrey but both declined to comment.