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Albany community looks for ways to prevent gun violence

July 23, 2019 11:24 PM

ALBANY - People in the City of Albany say it's time to put a stop to the violence.

Not one but two shooting responses were held Tuesday. One of them at Elizabeth Street Park, just feet from where a 3-year-old boy was hit by a stray bullet last week.

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Community leaders are fighting gun violence with additional night canvassing in certain areas, shooting response rallies, offering rewards for information and even with intentional meditation. They said the people committing these crimes need to find another way to deal with their problems.

Justin Gaddy is the Outreach Supervisor for the group, Should Never Use Guns or SNUG. Gaddy said it's been an emotional week after a stray bullet struck the toddler while he slept in a daycare center near Third and Elizabeth Streets.

The toddler will be okay, but Gaddy remembers when Katina Thomas was killed by a stray bullet in an Albany shootout back in 2008.

"It's really bothersome that this probably could've happened again,” Gaddy said.

SNUG Program Director Jerome Brown said they're stepping up their efforts as a result.

"We strategically plan more later canvassing hours,” Brown said. “We strategically plan to have more events in the summertime because we know that more people are out it's likely to be more violence with more people interacting with each other."

Lukee Forbes was incarcerated for 9 years. Forbes said he was lost as a teen, but now he's trying to help prevent other kids from ending up in the same situation by dressing up as superheroes and visiting schools and summer camps.

"Now I know that may sound nerdy, but we go in there and teach the kids the curriculums about basically the different things that go with being a superhero,” Forbes said. “Like the morals that go with it, the responsibility, the actual superhero characteristics that each and every one of us have a normal society."

Another preventative measure being tried is intentional meditation.

Bethany Gonyea is the founder of the Global Peaceful Cities Project. During the first week of August, free meditation sessions will be offered in Albany's Park South neighborhood.

Gonyea hopes it will give people a healthier, safer way to deal with their problems. She said it's already proven to be effective in the Capital Region.

"Last year in Schenectady we focused in an area in that area experienced a 25% reduction in violence compared to the rest of the city which had escalated as it does in the summer,” Gonyea said.

Everyone who spoke at the shooting response agreed, future efforts should be preventative, not reactive.

“It’s about doing it before it happens getting them before they get to the gun,” Forbes said.

Brown said the surgery director at Albany Medical Center called him to ask if he should to keep more surgeons on call in the event of more shootings, as many of them are on vacation now.

The director also said they've gotten threats from victims or their families. Brown said it's understandable that tensions run high in those situations, but he said that could really hurt their partnership with the hospital and the community.

Stay tuned to NewsChannel 13 for updates.

Credits

Emily Burkhard

Copyright 2019 WNYT-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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