West Palm Beach shootings shine light on gun violence

Posted at 10:00 PM, Jan 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-20 00:06:55-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Two shootings in broad daylight in West Palm Beach are shining a light on gun violence.

The first incident took place on the 1800 block of Tamarind Avenue at around 2 p.m.

"Boom boom boom boom boom, they were loud it scared me," describes Marjorie Alesi who lives along Tamarind and heard the shooting.

"It shook me up cause it's basically quiet during the day," she said.

The triple shooting sent all three victims to the hospital, with non-life-threatening injuries.

"Scared me to death. I look out my window and I saw all. I saw was one person laying down in front of the store," said Alesi.

A short time later, a second shooting took place along Military Trail and 45th Street, across from Palm Beach Lakes High School.

"A lot of these kids are disturbed and very disturbed and they need help and that's probably the only way they can reach out is by doing violence to get some attention," said Joseph Hamilton, whose wife's car was shot while she was driving with their 16-year-old daughter.

The bullet hit the car just feet from where the teen was sitting.

"With my daughter now growing up, me and my wife have experienced our life but at least give my daughter a chance," said Hamilton.

While West Palm Beach police say the shootings are unrelated, it sheds light on a broader issue.

RELATED: 3 injured in shooting on Tamarind Avenue in West Palm Beach

"Since 2015 there was definitely a downward trend in deadly shootings but over the past few months we've been seeing an uptick and that concerns us," said Ricky Aiken, the founder of Inter City Innovators".

Aiken said the pandemic became an obstacle and he's working to reach more young people socially and emotionally.

"And that's teaching our young people how to process their environment in ways that are not self-destructive. When you grow up in a community where violence is the answer to everything, you have to teach young people how to deal with life in a way that doesn't result in violence and that's what we do through our hope deal and mentoring initiative," said Aiken. "In a lot of other communities, youth are able to take risks and bounce back from those risks. But in communities like ours, the risks you take part in could cost you your life."

His organization connects teens with mentors and guidance making a difference and looking to stop the violence.

Currently, there are 60 young men and 20 young women enrolled in the program.

"I'm a product of this community and I'm going to do everything I can for the rest of my life to help the youth of this community, but if we're really going to see change, we gotta be the ones to step up," said Aiken.

Last year there were 22 homicides in West Palm Beach, an increase from 2020.

Over the previous three years, police say gun violence has been down.

To learn more about Inter City Innovators, click here.