WACO, Texas — This weekend saw the 12th murder in Waco since the new year. Waco PD told 25 News they are working hard to stay ahead of the increasing gun violence, but need community members' help.
"We are working to take guns off the streets, and we're doing it weekly," WPD's Cierra Shipley said. "Most of those guns we're taking off the streets are stolen guns."
Shipley said the goal is to prevent criminals from getting their hands on guns altogether, and they encourage gun owners to secure their weapons.
"It's a simple thing of just people leaving their gun in the car; the car's unlocked or even if the gun is hidden criminals are going to find it," she said. "If that car door is unlocked, it's not going to stop them from going rummaging through."
Gun violence started to rise toward the end of 2021 and continues to increase each month since. Earlier this year, Chief Sheryl Victorian released a video acknowledging that increase.
"The sounds of gunfire, the possibility that our friends or kids could be unintended victims, and the inability to feel safe can cause long-term harm," she said in the video.
Waco resident Flecha Smyre lost her son Montrell Phenix to gun violence more than a decade ago. She said it breaks her heart to see the killings continue.
"It just hurts me to even hear about it," she said.
She started a nonprofit called the Montrell Phenix Cease the Violence Foundation in 2019. The goal is to help support families of victims and encourage peace in our communities.
"We try to bring some awareness, try to get the community to come out and be supportive," she said. "I'm not going to give up because somebody's life can be saved. Something can be done with this if we just come together."
As Smyre continues to ask for peace, the police are also asking for help. If you have any information on any of the recent shootings, you can report it anonymously to Crime Stoppers at (254) 753-4357.