Bridgeport mayor creates task force to curb violence - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Bridgeport mayor creates task force to curb violence

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On Monday night, dozens turned out for a vigil for Colon (WFSB) On Monday night, dozens turned out for a vigil for Colon (WFSB)
BRIDGEPORT, CT (WFSB) -

Connecticut’s largest city is seeing a significant increase in gun violence, after two deadly shootings in just two weeks.

Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim talked a lot about public safety being a priority during his campaign, and said he wanted to add more police officers.

He has now set up a task force to help reduce violence in the city this upcoming year.

"The big problem is people sell drugs around the street, everywhere,” said Sergio Valdovimos, of Bridgeport.

For nearly 12 years, Valdovimos has served up fresh, authentic Mexican food from inside his restaurant on Main Street. However, he said he won’t stay open past 9:30 p.m., because it isn’t safe.

This year, the city is at 19 murders, up from 12 last year. The new task force is charged with targeting potential hotspots to reduce violent crime in 2016.

"We did it before in the past, when he first came into office.  We had 60 to 70 murders per year.  We don't want to go back there.  We want to make sure we curb it immediately and swiftly,” said Bridgeport Police Capt. AJ Perez.

Just 12 days ago, right across the street from Valdovimos’ restaurant, 19-year-old Oscar Martin Refugio was shot and killed during a robbery at Grand Pizza.

On Christmas Eve, 14-year-old Luis Colon was killed after walking home from a store on State Street.

Police quickly arrested 23-year-old Michael Majors, charging him with murder after he allegedly opened fire on a crowd outside a barber shop.

Colon was caught in the crossfire while crossing the street.

On Monday night, dozens turned out for a vigil for Colon, including Ganim who detailed the new initiative.

"It's going to target high crime areas in the city. I don't like to designate what a high crime area is, I'll leave that up to the department and they'll have the resources they need to be proactive throughout the city, to deal with this,” Ganim said.

Captain Perez is in the process of putting together the task force, and he said he will be reaching out to federal and state partners to help get the job done.

"Have the Justice Department come in and do a number on those who decide to break the law. There are a lot of guns on the street,” Perez said.

While police said detectives are still working on the fatal robbery inside the pizza shop, they said they expect to make a second arrest in the Luis Colon case, saying they have identified a second shooter.

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