Residents in Easthaven are coming together in an effort to break the cycle of violence in their community. A surge of recent shootings this week has homeowners taking action and fighting back.
Felicia Saunders is on a crusade to stop the violence. She knows all too well the pain violent crime can cause. Five years ago today, her 22 year-old son Anthony was shot to death following an ongoing dispute with a young man.
"The pain never goes away," said Saunders. "Today is bittersweet, it has been five years, I wish I could see him again, but since his death a lot has changed in this community."
Saunders is channeling her grief and pain by working hard to stop violent crime in her own backyard. The mother turned activist is the Easthaven Blockwatch president, a neighborhood watch group she started after her son's death.
Residents are coming together this weekend to discuss the recent wave of shootings and strategize on how to combat crime.
Earlier this week, there were two shootings including one at the Riverdale Square apartments where a man was murdered.
"Unfortunately there are too many of our black males getting killed," said Saunders. "My son was the seventh child killed in this community between '05 and '09. She added, "If I can continue to do what I do, I am saving another life."
Don Jones is a neighborhood block captain and an 18 year resident of Easthaven. He said curbing crime is all about getting to know your neighbor.
"What we try to do is watch out for each other and that's the big difference right there," said Jones.
Saunders said it takes everybody in the community to come together to fight crime, even children. She added residents are becoming more willing to speak up about crime and that's deterring criminals.
"We're coming in numbers to alleviate these people who come to our community to do their dirt," she said. "Those days are over."
Police are stepping up patrols as a result of the latest shootings. Police cameras are expected to be installed at Courtwright and Petzinger in an effort to curb crime.