TEMPLE, Texas — A string of shootings in the past week is shedding light on the rising gang violence in Temple.
Temple Police responded to four shootings in the past week.
Police say the shootings are gang-related — and that is something city leaders say they are aware of.
“Public safety is the City of Temple’s top priority. It is my top priority,” Judy Morales, Temple's mayor pro tem, said in a written statement to 25 News. “City Council is aware of the recent shooting incidents and that a percentage of those are related to gang activity.”
This year alone, there have been at least 32 gang-related shootings in Temple, including at least two drive-by shootings in the past week.
Adding to what Temple police say is a rising trend of drive-by style shootings.
”This past year, yes," said Lt. Brian Moody, Temple Police Department. "It's definitely a trend that we are seeing very often. As opposed to years past, we did not see this many. This past year or two, we have definitely seen an increase.”
Authorities believe shootings are a result of drug and territorial disputes among rival gangs in the area.
”Rival gangs — and in most of the situations that we respond to, a shooting occurs by one particular gang and then it is usually followed by some type of retaliation,” Moody said.
Temple police are working with the FBI, ATF and Texas Department of Public Safety to solve these crimes, but they are hitting a wall with very little cooperation from victims or witnesses.
”It makes our job extremely difficult to create a prosecutable case without victim or witness cooperation,” Moody said.
Now Mayor Pro Tem Morales is reaching out to the community in a written statement to 25 News.
"I encourage my district to help us do so," Morales said. "If they know something or see something, it is important to say something by calling the Temple Police Department."
Forty-one percent of the shootings in Temple this year have been link to gang violence. As of now, nobody has been killed in any of the gang-related shootings.
Authorities are asking anyone with information to contact the Temple Police Department or Bell County Crime Stoppers.