York city leaders call for end to youth gun violence

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YORK, Pa. - Leaders are urging the public to help police stop a recent rash of gun violence on city streets that resulted in 16 people being shot in the city in December.

Police say that's the largest number they have seen in one month in recent memory, and they're calling on the public to help them put an end to gun violence.

“Our children deserve so much more than the state prison system or a coffin,” Kim Bracey, York’s mayor, said. “They deserve the opportunity to achieve goals and believe in themselves.”

City leaders say the weekend shooting of 18-year-old Shyhiem McDowell on Girard Avenue, reportedly committed by a teenage girl and a male accomplice, was just the latest incident prompting officials to call on parents to keep a watchful eye on their children.

“We need you to ensure our youth are in school,” Sandie Walker, a recently elected city councilwoman who had been appointed as the council’s police liaison, said. “We need you to ensure that our youth have a safe place to go after school. We need you to ensure that our youths' needs are being met.”

Police say many of the suspects being arrested in these cases are very young and are not even old enough to legally own a firearm.

They also say many of the victims in these shootings are providing false information to police, potentially out of fear of retribution.

“It's a lot of wasted man hours and cost to the city for our detectives to have to dig through going down the wrong path as to what's taking place,” York police Chief Wes Kahley said.

And that's why they are relying on the public's help to provide clues that lead to solving these crimes.

“Our solution is we're not going to sit back and say, ‘Oh, this was a spike and do nothing,’” Kahley said. “We're going to jump on it.”

“We all have to join together,” Bracey added. “This has to be a community effort with everyone taking stock and putting an end to these senseless killings and shootings at the hand of illegal guns.”

Anyone with information on the recent rash of gun violence is urged to call York police or submit anonymous tips to York County Crime Stoppers at 755-TIPS.

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