Violence forum held one night after Hartford quadruple shooting

A meeting was held in Hartford to discuss the recent violence (WFSB)

Hartford police have responded to more than 80 shootings this year.

That number is far more than at this point last year.

On Thursday night, Hartford leaders met with community members to try and figure out ways to stop the violence. Everyone agrees there is no easy fix.

Community leaders hope places like the Arroyo Rec Center will play a role in decreasing violence.

The hours at the center have been extended throughout the summer until much later in the evening.

The folks who spoke at the meeting say everyone needs to pitch in if people are really serious about curbing this spike in violence.

Wednesday night, four people were gunned down on Hillside Avenue less than a week after a murder on New Canaan Street.

Maria Feliciano is used to the violence and that’s what makes her so angry.

“It’s crazy and something’s got to give something’s got to change,” said Feliciano.

Feliciano understands the heartache gun violence has wreaked on her hometown.

Earlier this month, her close friend Miguel Perez was murdered on Hamilton Street, which brought back painful memories of when her brother Marvin was killed when she was just a teenager.

“You lose all control of your life and your thoughts you don’t even know who you are anymore,” Feliciano said.

Feliciano’s pain has inspired her to speak at the community forum on the escalating violence.

She wants the city to focus more on offering mental services to kids directly or indirectly impacted by violence.

Advocate Michelle Chase agrees these shootings are scarring young people.

“These children are re-traumatized each time they walk to school past these memorials it reminds them someone lost their life there,” said Chase from Hartford Systems of Care Collaborative.

Mayor Luke Bronin understands the concern and says the city is trying to protect kids and make the streets safer by keeping Hartford rec centers open later this summer and increasing police patrols.

But, the true cause of the violence epidemic is tied to two other huge issues.

“I think we need to continue to advocate for some big changes at the national and state level to address the problem of having too many guns out there and number two, an opioid epidemic that needs to be treated like a public health crisis,” said Bronin.

Feliciano understands big changes can’t happen overnight, but she does believe meetings like this can help start the process of creating a more peaceful Hartford, so fewer kids will know the pain she lives with.

“I don’t give up hope cause I’m still here but it does take a community,” Feliciano said.

The quadruple shooting was less than a half a mile from where the forum was held.

Police are still looking for the shooter. One of the victims is in critical condition.

Copyright 2018 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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