HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — A violent week in Harrisburg: since Saturday, March 12, eight shootings have left three people dead and 12 injured, including two minors.
Everyone is talking about the problem of gun violence including the mayor, the police, the district attorney, and other community leaders. Their message? It is going to take the community’s help to fix this.
“You have to get involved because it could happen to you,” nonprofit owner Joyce Vanderhorst-Gamble, said.
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Vanderhorst-Gamble runs Camp Curtin Neighborhoods United. After a recent rash of shootings in Harrisburg, she and other community leaders are calling on the city’s residents to step up.
“Death after death all this week, every day this week, it’s not going to get any better unless we start reacting,” she said.
Ana White runs Way with Words Consulting Services, which specializes in diversity and inclusion training.
“Something has to give, something has to change,” White said.
Both women say ending gun violence is everyone’s responsibility.
“The community, the city, nonprofits, school districts, we all have to work together,” White said.
Vanderhorst-Gamble also said, “We need to work together to try to report things before they happen.”
That message has been echoed by city leaders.
“If you want to end this senseless gun violence, we need you to speak up,” Harrisburg mayor Wanda Williams said at a press conference Monday.
White said there are many layers to this problem, but a key piece is mental health.
“Mental health is what drives behavior, is what drives value systems, it’s what drives change,” she said.
Access to resources matters, too.
“People with mental illness can’t get help,” Vanderhorst-Gamble said.
Another part of the solution is engaging young people.
“We know that we need to keep kids off the street and we need to find them something to do,” White said.
However, White said the bigger issue is that she feels solutions to tackling violence so far have been about short-term fixes. She wants the community to look at the root causes of violence and focus on long-term solutions.
“When we start to peel the layers of why things are happening and make proactive decisions about tackling those issues, that is I think where the work really lies,” she said.
So far, police have made no arrests in any of the shootings since March 12. They are encouraging anyone with information to come forward.