Local community looks to end gun violence

Johnstown, Cambria County, Pa. - More than 50 people gathered Monday night to discuss solutions to the recent gun violence in Johnstown.

"We need to do something," said John Thompson, a concerned resident. "We all deserve to live."

This was the second public meeting on violence since two teenagers were shot and killed in December and another teenager was injured in a shooting in Hornerstown.

Thompson said the violence has impacted everyone.

"It's been difficult to see these young kids cut down in the prime of their life," said Thompson. "Stuff like this that affects one community in the city, spills over and affects the others also."

Johnstown city and school officials, police and residents met to brainstorm solutions and ways the community can prevent violence.

"Tonight we had more of an exchange of ideas. It wasn't just listening to a panel. We could actually give input," said Johnstown resident Michael Allen, who also attended the first forum.

Ideas included better parent education, youth activities and community engagement.

"Building stronger communities by getting to know our neighbors. Some mentoring programs for the kids," said Allen. "

Increasing police presence and building trust and stronger relationships with law enforcement was also discussed.

"The biggest thing we need to do is work with the police to let them know what's going on in our neighborhoods. They can't see and do it all," Allen said.

"Community policing's a little hard to do with the number of men we have on the street right now, but we do as much as we can," said Johnstown Police Chief Robert Johnson, Johnstown Police

Chief Johnson said the department is looking into a gun buy-back program and installing new technology in police cruisers so officers can work directly from the field. However, he said police need the public's help.

"Get involved. Don't stand for this anymore," said Chief Johnson.

"The sooner we start, the more chance we'll have," Thompson said.

The next public meeting on violence will take place on Monday, April 16th at 6 p.m. at Johnstown Middle School on Messenger Street.

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