Hartford officials urge community to help reduce violence in wak - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Hartford officials urge community to help reduce violence in wake of 20th homicide

Posted: Updated:
Friends and family of Devon Mitchell attended a vigil on Saturday night. (WFSB photo) Friends and family of Devon Mitchell attended a vigil on Saturday night. (WFSB photo)

The capital city marked its 20th homicide over the weekend.

Mayor Pedro Segarra said in a statement that Hartford police along state and federal officials are working to identify criminals before they act.

Segarra also made his own plea to the community to come together and help confront challenges to reduce violence.

This as police continue to search for whoever shot 25-year-old Devon Mitchell.

Mitchell's mother spoke exclusively with Eyewitness News over the weekend.

Amid her grief, Delores Gillespie said she chose to speak for a couple of reasons. She said she wanted people to know her son’s death represents more than a number. She also wanted help from those who may know the killer.

“He's my best friend,” Gillespie said. What am I supposed to do man what am I supposed to do? I can't do nothing without him. I can't do nothing without him.”

Mitchell, 25, was gunned down on Blue Hills Avenue near a pizza shop just before 9 p.m. on Saturday.

“My son was a nice son. He was a nice son,” Gillespie said. “I miss my son already right now. I just miss my son.”

Mitchell’s family said he was more than just a somber milestone. They called him a loving and kind person.

“It tore us apart,” Gillespie said. “We're just all falling apart right now. I'm trying to calm down but deep down in my heart I'm really, really hurting bad.”

Gillespie attended a vigil at the spot where her son died.

Rev. Samuel Saylor, who also lost a son to violence, told Gillespie that those gatherings make a difference.

“My son had fallen and I needed the world to know that he was appreciated by having the family members and friends,” Saylor said. “It made a difference and it led to the arrest and conviction of his assailant.”

People at the vigil said someone in the community knows who killed Mitchell.

Gillespie hopes that one day she can forgive the person who did it. However, she said the only way that can happen is if she faces him in a courtroom.

“I just want justice,” she said. “If anybody knows anything or saw anything, please come forward. Please, I'm begging you, please.”

Mitchell's death came two weeks after the city was given help from the state in the form of three additional police detectives.

Hartford has the largest summer youth employment program in the state with 1,500 participants.

The programs are aimed at getting children on a positive track, as some of them are aware of the violence around them.

For soon-to-be high school junior Zechariah Stevens, he joined the Hartford Youth Safety Program where he gets hands-on training from police, fire and EMS.

"I do think of this as a career for me," Stevens said. 

More than 40 students are involved in this program, and on Monday they were learning how to respond to a car crash.

There are other organizations available for children in the city.

Milon Coachman started Limitless Promotions, and Yvette Jones-Woodward started Safe Deposit Box. They both have teamed up to mentor children and young adults.

"We are making a little dent and a dent is better than nothing," Coachman said.

The youth group leaders teach children and young adults valuable life skills with the hopes of them making better life decisions.

"We want them to know that although their environment is different than their home bringing, they still have the same opportunities that could be afforded to them," Jones-Woodward said.

On Aug. 29, Limitless Promotions will be hosting the 1st Public Service Appreciation event for the Safe Deposit Mentorship Program.

The program is expected to mentor young African American males from ages 6 to 24, to become leaders in their community.

The event will honor public service workers and the members who will be honored include, but are not limited to firefighters, law enforcement city and state workers and more.

The event will take place at Vibe Uptown in Hartford on Main Street from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Copyright 2015 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.