Tuesday, family members of 4 year old Jeremiah Ward, who was shot to death on Monday, mourned their loss during a vigil. Peoria Police Chief Loren Marion said investigators believe there are people who have first-hand knowledge of the shooting.
“When we know that a person is withholding information, we urge and plead the community to come forward and with any information no matter how minor they believe it is in regard to the death of this child,” said Chief Marion.
Divergent Church pastor, Gary Velasquez, said there can be quite a few reasons people don’t speak out.
“In areas in underprivileged areas like the south end there’s sort of this code that you don’t speak up. A lot of that stems from fear, fear form police, fear from repercussions with our family. But the culture needs to be broken in to that we need to speak up. These things are becoming repetitive in our city. Crimes are going unsolved because of these things,” said Velasquez.
City of Peoria’s Diversity and Inclusion Officer said having a relationship with the community plays a big role.
“Continuously developing those relationships, enhancing those relationships in an authentic way, in a transparent way can help to when you need information from a community because you’re engaged in the community,” said Dr. Mohammed.
Mayor Jim Ardis said this is a critical time and Jeremiah deserves justice.
“Putting police officers on every corner doesn’t solve the problem. We need the community to engage. People were there when this happened. They know who did this and they need to help us get these people off the street,” said mayor Ardis.
This Friday, PCAV is hosting a memorial walk to remember those who have died from gun violence. The walk will begin at 5:30 P.M. and start at the East Bluff Community Center and will end with a prayer.