Pastor: City needs National Guard to help combat gang violence

Military last called in to fight crime after interstate sniper shootings in 1992


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A local pastor is calling for an end to violence in Jacksonville's high-crime areas after two deadly shootings police say were gang-related.

Pastor Kenneth Adkins has asked Gov. Rick Scott to call in the National Guard to help reduce crime in the River City.

He also delivered letters to Mayor Alvin Brown and Sheriff John Rutherford asking them to support a 9 p.m. curfew.

The last time the National Guard was called to Jacksonville to fight crime was almost 23 years ago after a series of sniper shootings on Interstate 295.

Adkins said the violence in these areas has gotten out of control, particularly in New Town, where two people were shot and killed last week. One of the victims, police say, was an innocent bystander.

Memorials for both victims continued to grow Monday.


The National Guard was called to Ferguson, Missouri, this year (pictured) after violent protests and demonstrations broke out after the shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown.

The National Guard was last called to Jacksonville in 1992 after a series of shootings on I-295 that left one person dead and others injured.

The National Guard can only be called at the request of the governor.

Adkins, who said he represents about 60 local pastors from the Issachar Ministerial Alliance, wants a 9 p.m. curfew here in Jacksonville.

"You also hear so many reports of people hearing gunshots and having to dive on the floor," Adkins said. "Aren't people tire of living like that?"

The pastor's efforts come after two deadly shootings last week that police say were gang-related.

One of them was on Wednesday outside of the McDonald's on Cassat Avenue on the Westside. Police said two of the three people shot had ties to gangs.

Then on Thursday two women died and a man was injured in a drive-by shooting in the New Town area.

JSO said two of those people were also gang members.

Adkins, an ex-offender, has turned his life around.

"I was in a gang. It's crazy. It's a life I don't wish on anybody else," Adkins said.

Adkins said about 40 other pastors support his curfew plan, but he didn't say who those pastors are, because they've been getting push back from the community.

"No one wants to be talked about on Facebook. No one wants to be called a coon and a sellout," Adkins said. "'Why are you dogging our community?' They didn't sign on for that. They signed on for 'is this a solution?'"

A separate group of pastors, the A.M.E. Ministers Alliance, is holding a news conference at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the New Bethel AME Church to announce its plans to reduce crime in New Town. Those pastors haven't said yet if they're in support of the curfew or not.