More than two weeks after 11 people were shot in a north Tulsa park, community members have continued to take a stand against violence. Central High School hosted a forum Monday evening concerning the shooting. Officials and parents hope that by talking about what happened, they can find ways to prevent it from occurring again. The News On 6â€™s Chris Wright was at the meeting, he reports the forum was the first of several that will be held before the end of the school year.
Like many of those in attendance Monday, Leron West is still angry about the shooting. His 15-year-old granddaughter was one the 11 people shot in Crawford Park on March 17th. Tulsa Police say a drive-by gunman opened fire on a group of young people gathered there, and someone in the crowd fired back. West, who arrived at the park several minutes after the shooting, says it is something no child should experience.
"I'm mad, I'd like to know that our children are safe, and events like this that happen let me know that they're not as safe as we think," he said.
City officials, church and school leaders, as well as police were on hand to discuss what could be done to curb violence in north Tulsa. Those in attendance were asked to write any concerns or questions on index cards. Panel members then did their best to answer those questions. While tragic, they hope the Saint Patrick's Day shooting will be a catalyst for action.
"This is our response to something that happened in the community,â€ Central High School Principal Jean Keeton said. â€œIt's kind of like this has happened, what do we do now, what's our plan?"
Sergeant Van Ellis delivered a different message, the Tulsa Police Department is still searching for both shooters, and the head of the city's Gang Unit urged witnesses to talk with police.
"The community needs to be engaged in this as well,â€ said Sergeant Ellis. â€œWe need victims, witnesses to come forward in these cases."
Leron West would like to see that happen. He says the shooters need to be caught, and things need to change in North Tulsa.
"With everyone having a focus on protecting our kids, somehow it's not being done,â€ West said. â€œWhatever is not being done, I want it fixed."
Officials say the focus of Monday night's forum was to provide people with an overview of the investigation and community response. They say they plan on devising a strategy to fight violence in the area at future forums. One idea mentioned at Mondayâ€™s meeting was providing more recreation and entertainment options for kids in North Tulsa. Community members feel that if teens have something to do, they won't get involved with gang violence.
3/17/ 2007 - Gunmen Still Being Sought After Drive-By Shooting
3/18/2007 - Park Attack Prompts Meeting
3/19/2007 Community Leaders Seek Action After Weekend Shooting
3/20/2007 Tulsans Take Action To End Gang Violence