More than two weeks after deadly Sweet 16 shooting, Riviera Beach mayor asks residents for patience

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. - More than two weeks after two people were shot and killed and six others were wounded at a Sweet 16 birthday party at the popular Newcomb Hall, the mayor here has asked the public to be patient as he and others work to curb the violence.

"I'm not going to put a timetable [on it]," Mayor Thomas Masters said. " If we can stop one shooting -- one killing -- if we can change one child it [is] worth six months. It's worth a year's efforts."

Masters has been criticized by some residents who have said despite youth job fairs, gun buy-back programs and rallies, little has seemingly changed in this city of 32,000.

A pastor since the 1980s, Masters said faith and values were critical to the success of the programs.

This weekend, he announced a program to create neighborhood "peacekeepers," but did not offer a specific metric to measure its success.

"For those people who are wondering if it's going to work, you know, don't sit back on the sidelines. Get involved and let's make it work. This Mayor cannot do it by [himself]," he said. "We don't give up on our children. We don't give up on our community. We don't give up on law enforcement. Families that pray together stay together."

Earlier this month, Masters reached out to religious leaders and business owners to fold them into his efforts.

Long-time Riviera Beach business owner Ernie Garvey, who spoke with Masters, said more needed to be done -- in schools.

"We have tried to hire young people here. Unfortunately, I mean, we just don't have the people that are, in my opinion, qualified sometimes," said Garvey, the owner of Port Printing Co. "I think we need to get the schools to tell these kids to go find yourself a job or try to find yourself a job instead of doing bad things."

Rijkard Jean-Baptiste, a 20-year-old Lake Park resident, has been charged with first- and second-degree murder in connection with the deaths of Antonio Hinds, 17, and Andrew Joseph, 16.

Print this article Back to Top

Comments