PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - There is an additional layer of protection and, perhaps, a stronger sense of security at a Port St. Lucie park.
Sportsman's Park was the scene of a recent shooting that left a 25-year-old man dead. The basketball court where Marcus Samuel was playing before he was shot and killed on March 14 remains closed. As the police investigation goes on, so does life at the park.
Christine Edge-Cochran was at the park the night Samuel was killed.
"You hear the gunshots... and then just mayhem," she said.
She has returned several times with her children for baseball practice and games. She said she has a new sense of security since the shooting.
"When you pull in the parking lot, I wasn't scared to come here," she said. "I didn't even think twice about it."
Part of that sense of security is coming from about a half dozen members of the Treasure Coast Guardian Angels group. They are unarmed and unpaid volunteers on bicycles and on foot, patrolling the park and keeping close watch for potential criminal activity.
"It works. What we do works," said chapter commander Steve Horton, who is leading this Guardian Angels contingent. "When they see us, they can look back at the game and feel much more confident and feel safe."
Police say Marcus Samuel was playing basketball when he got into an altercation with Terry McKeliver, 22. Guns were drawn, investigators say, and Samuel was shot. McKeliver and another man were arrested after the shooting, but not in connection with Samuel's death.
Now, the Guardian Angels are patrolling Sportsman's Park and are prepared to act if something else should go wrong.
"When there's a bad element and we show up, they scatter," said bike unit commander Mark Peterson. "I'm going to go home feeling good knowing that I made a difference that day."
The Guardian Angels were welcomed by park management to patrol the area whenever they can.
Police, meanwhile, are looking for potential witnesses to the shooting. Anyone with information should contact Treasure Coast CrimeStoppers at (800)273-TIPS.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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