McKEES ROCKS (KDKA) — A recent spike in violence has McKees Rocks on edge.
So, the community came together for a meeting Thursday evening looking to take the first steps toward curbing crime in their area.
It was a meeting at the Myers Ridge Community Center with everyone looking for answers, trying to collectively understand what’s going on lately in McKees Rocks.
“I found so much evidence yesterday on Facebook related to my baby brother’s case,” said Sonya Smith, a McKees Rocks resident. “All I could do was cry. I had to stop because the rage in me was taking over.”
Smith’s 19-year-old brother, Marshawn Ptomey, was fatally gunned down in McKees Rocks in May and the pain has not gone away.
“The other day, a boy got murdered and I can’t tell you all how mad I was,” she said. “I got on Facebook, more grown people were posting about everything, nobody never called the police to say anything.”
The two most recent McKees Rocks homicides happened this week.
Authorities say Kalief Gates, 21, was fatally shot Monday afternoon in an apartment building by a man who said Gates broke into his residence.
A few hours earlier, 19-year-old Javon Riley was shot and killed on Vine Street.
Madaline Hines, the mother of four including an 11-year-old son, moved to area from California back in 2001.
“Since I’ve been here, I’ve been to more funerals here for young boys than I’ve ever been while I was in California,” said Hines.
What would help solve the crime problems in McKees Rocks?
Residents say more jobs, better dialogue with police – people speaking out when they are aware of a problem and not sweep it under the rug, better parenting and adults acting as role models.
“I’d say it starts at the very beginning – the family life,” said Chief Robert Cifrulak, of the McKees Rocks Police Department. “I mean, these kids… when they say at-risk kids, it’s the truth.”
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