Lakeland residents crack down on gang violence - FOX 13 News

Lakeland residents crack down on gang violence

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LAKELAND (FOX 13) -

Nearly 400 volunteers in Lakeland went door to door Saturday morning offering help to those living around the West Memorial Boulevard area.

The area has been plagued with gang violence..many involving teenagers. Those out today hope by making their presence known, they'll be able to change lives.

Some marched as others, like Jimmy foster, mowed the lawn.

"I brought two of my mowers out. I'm glad to help," he said Saturday morning.

Foster lives no where near West Memorial Boulevard in Lakeland, but hears about the gang violence occurring in the area.

"If they see us helping they can look and say well why can't I be out there doing that also? They could if they would," he said.

Foster was one of about 400 volunteers who pitched in with the community out reach event.

"The good people here need all the help they can get and the rough necks need more help. They really need the help," said Foster.

Lakeland police said the area has 465 documented gang members. Since April, four of Lakeland's shootings were gang-related.

"We are making sure that the shadows go away from the over grown trees. That the lighting is in place to prevent somebody from hiding," said Sgt. Gary Groos with the Lakeland Police Department. "We are doing everything we can to make sure that this is a safe neighborhood."

Volunteers went door to door passing out care packages and introducing themselves to residents.

We are trying to cut down on some of the crime," said Pastor Kendrix Gardner as he handed a neighbor a bag.

Pastor Gardner, with New Mt.Zion Missionary Church, is a Lakeland Gang Task Force committee member. He has seen the pain from the violence first hand.

"It is personal. It is challenging," he said. "If we don't start today then you never know where the next incident will take place and it may effect you or it may effect me."

Resident Erifian Cruz agrees.

"I hear shots at night," said Cruz.

Cruz recently moved to the area. He wants the violence to stop, but knows it will take time.

"We have got to see about tomorrow or the next day. That is the way it works. Everything doesn't stop in the night," he said.

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