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Mayor Evans talks about a renewed emphasis on getting illegal guns off the streets after a recent string of homicides

Rochester's skyline from Court Street
James Brown
Rochester's skyline from Court Street

Rochester Mayor Malik Evans and other city officials are talking about a multi-faceted approach in dealing with recent violence, including four murders in about a five-day period last week.

At a Sunday news conference, Evans noted that in January, early in his new administration, he was talking about a 14-year-old who had been murdered.

Then, last week, a 17-year-old youth died after being shot while walking with friends after just getting off a school bus on Otis Street. And early Sunday morning, four people were shot on State Street and two of them died.

Evans said this is not just a City Hall problem, it’s a community problem.

“There is a segment of this community that is going to have to decide if a 17-year-old child dying, or a 14-year-old child dying, or four people being shot at one location, is acceptable,” said Evans.

Evans pointed to the need to stop the flow of illegal guns in the city. He said that authorities have been able to take dozens of illegal guns off the streets since the beginning of the year.

“124 guns in 73 days is great work,” said Evans. “We should be celebrating that, but unfortunately, it is only the tip of the iceberg. Because it seems like for every one we take off the street, another two come in. We know the bulk of them are not coming from Rochester.”

The mayor said he will be meeting with federal, state and local law enforcement this week to talk about strategies to get more illegal guns off the streets.

Victor Saunders also spoke at Sunday’s news conference. He is the mayor’s special advisor on violence prevention programs.

He implored people not to settle disputes with guns, and to stop shooting indiscriminately at houses, putting the lives of innocent people at risk.

“We all have a part to play to make our city safer,” said Saunders. “Put your guns down. Let safe spaces exist where your own brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, aunties, uncles, moms and dads are not in danger.”

City officials are also reminding young people about Rochester’s Summer of Opportunity program this year which will look to provide jobs for at least 600 students, ages 14 to 20. Shirley Green, the city's Commissioner of Recreation and Human Services, said that in city R-Centers, there are a number of programs and activities that can keep young people engaged throughout the year.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.