PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — It was a violent Independence Day weekend in Peoria.
Three separate shootings resulted in Peoria’s 11th and 12th homicides of the year: Mariah Moss, 21, and Quintin Scott, 19, were killed on Saturday and Monday, respectively.
There was also a shooting outside Big Al’s on Monday that resulted in two taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
“Violence is on the uptick. Weather change, attitudes change. Summer’s here,” said Terry Burnside, executive director of House of Hope, a non-profit organization that provides trauma-informed care, violence prevention, victim support, and a food pantry.
Burnside, a longtime community leader, said he’s been involved in many anti-violence meetings during the past year, but nothing has come to fruition.
“We got to strategize, we have to mobilize and get in front of this thing. Instead of meeting to be meeting. We need to start coming up with plans of action,” he said.
Burnside said the community has many anti-violence groups and organizations, but they are having issues meeting in the middle.
“We have enough resources right here at home that we can tap into… We just need to check egos in at the door, roll up our sleeves, join hands and just get busy… Because at the end of the day it’s at the expense of lives being lost, victims being shot,” said Burnside.
Peoria Police Chief Eric Echevarria said the relationship between the police department and the community is improving, thanks to initiatives like their “Walk and Talk” and 4-1-1 tip line.
“We’re moving in the right direction for the community to say – we can talk to them. If you didn’t trust what we were doing, we’d have no tips,” said Echevarria.
He said PPD has received more than 300 tips through 4-1-1 this year. Community involvement is paramount to solving crimes.
“We need the community to tell us what they’re seeing… I need the eyes and ears of our community, but I need them to trust they can share information with us,” said Echevarria.
Burnside said much of the violence stems from social media.
“You get large gatherings, a lot of stuff with social media, then they cross paths… put up or shut up… It’s the ripple effect of interpersonal beef… and then it turns into retaliation,” he said.
Burnside said it’s “going to take the community to save the community.”
“Law enforcement is doing their part, they make some great strides, but it’s going to take the community. Form some unity in the community, that’s our role… only the hood can save the hood,” he said.