Jacksonville police: 33 people shot, 7 killed in April

Witnesses, community members urged to make anonymous tips

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Thirty-three people were shot, seven of whom died, in Jacksonville in April, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

According to Channel 4 records, police have responded to 16 shootings in just the last 16 days.  In addition, shots were fired at two police officers -- one of them hit in the arm by a bullet.

The recent rise in gun violence has both community group leaders and residents worried about the crime rate increasing even more in the summer.

A woman who only wants to be identified as Elise said she covered her 2-year-old child while about 30 shots were fired in Northwest Jacksonville Tuesday on Barnett Road.

It marked the 16th shooting since April 14 in the River City. Five of those were fatal.

"The generation we've got now, they got some hate in their heart," Elise said. "They don't have any money, they don't have an education and that's what you get."

Witnesses described Tuesday's shooting as an ambush, leaving one man dead and a woman injured. But like most of the cases, the witnesses aren't reporting what they saw to police, leaving the gunmen still capable of committing more crimes.

"The community is becoming so insensitive to what's going on, and we're just letting it control us instead of us standing up and fighting back," said Donald Foy, president of MAD DADS, Men Against Destruction Defending Against Drugs and Social Disorder.

Foy said the violence is out of control and he worries that the summer months may be even worse. He said the key is breaking the code of silence, something those in the community are hesitant to do.

Foy said he recognizes that Jacksonville police officers are doing everything they possibly can to bring the gunmen to justice with the resources they have, but without the willingness of witnesses to report what they saw by calling Crime Stoppers anonymously, Foy said neighborhoods are fighting a losing battle.

"We're putting ourselves in jeopardy with this because the shootings are happening on the corner and could hit anybody, the bullets could fly and hit one of your family members. But then what?" Foy said.

Foy said he believes the increase in violence is gang- and turf-related. Police said there is a common thing among many of them.

"Without any doubt, through our investigations we learned that so many of these shootings and murders are related to drugs," JSO Director Tom Hackney. "This is from street-level marijuana to larger cocaine -- a drug nexus is definitely there." 

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