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Spate of shootings has Petersburg neighbors on edge: ‘Everybody’s used to ducking’

PETERSBURG, Va. -- Community members and police held a news conference in Petersburg to address a string of recent shootings that have heightened concerns for residents who live in the historic city.

Linwood Christian, who has spent decades walking up and down the sidewalks along Mistletow Street, is worried about his neighborhood.

"Gun violence was rare around here,” Christian lamented. "Now you hear the gunshots."

Christian is worried after a spate of shootings across his city.

"When the shootings come back now, everybody’s used to ducking their heads and stuff like... We don't want that to become the norm,” Christian said.

As a result, the Harding Area Neighborhood Association held a news conference Thursday morning to address the violence and seek solutions.

"In regard to the recent increase in shootings and what not, I want to put you at ease by saying we are down in violent crimes for the year…” Capt. Chris Walker with Petersburg Police said.

Walker pointed out that many violent crimes in the city are not random.

"Most of the violent crimes that occur in our city, the offender and the victim know each other," Walker said. "This conference designed to get the truth out and [find] ideas on how to prevent more shootings."

Accordingly, Petersburg City Manager Aretha Ferrell-Benavides said city officials are partnering with community leaders to make Petersburg safer.

"As we move forward and continue, I think we're going to be launching a collective program where we're going to work with our regional patterns," Ferrell-Benavides said. "But also working with our community partners to make sure that people are coming out and helping us to get these guns off the street. I think that is going to be the only way that we can stop some of the things you’re seeing."

Citizens like Rosecia Roy hope something works.

"One of the concerns that I think that we need to address is to find resolutions, additional resolutions, ones that have been proven to work for a size of population that we have in Petersburg," Roy said.

Additionally, officers urged neighbors to come forward if they hear or see something.

"Lives that are lost are not going to come back," Ferrell-Benavides said.

Officials said a majority of the recent shooting cases are still being investigated.

If you have information that could help detectives, call Petersburg/Dinwiddie Crime Solvers at 804-861-1212 or text the keyword pdcash followed by the tip and send to 274637.

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