LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) — Community members from across the Midstate gathered in Lancaster on Sunday to honor and remember victims lost to gun violence.

“It’s heartbreaking. I’m born and raised here and it’s always been a safe community,” Lancaster resident Rosa Van Pelt said. “I’ve actually had to witness a shooting in my neighborhood, and I never thought I would see it. It’s mind-boggling to me that a place where I call home, I’m scared. You shouldn’t be scared of where you live.”

The ceremony followed a recent string of shootings, some fatal, across the city. Most recently, a woman was found dead on N. Lime Street. Lancaster Police are investigating her death as a homicide.

It’s tragedies like that the community said it’s working to prevent.

“My fiancé was murdered last year and I feel the need to help others understand that this is something serious,” an individual in Lancaster said. They were not identified by abc27 News due to safety concerns.

Community members agreed that violence in the area has increased in recent years. Pennsylvania’s violent crime rate increased 27% from 2019 to 2020 — more than any other state in the nation. 

“When we lose someone in our community to gun violence, it doesn’t just affect that family, it’s a domino effect,” Van Pelt said. “It affects your neighbor, your co-worker, your children, the whole community — the whole community is mourning that loss.”