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‘I’ve had their blood on my hands:’ Faith, community leaders address gun violence in Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Gun violence has rocked the City of Jacksonville. On Monday night, faith leaders called on city and community leaders to address the problem.

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These concerns were top of mind for many people who attended tonight’s meeting. And it was timely since we’ve learned four people were hurt and one person was killed from reported shootings just this weekend.

RELATED: Four shootings leave one dead, several injured in Jacksonville weekend violence

Now, community leaders are calling for change.

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Dozens gathered tonight to talk about gun violence in our community. Among them was Rebecca Melvin, a paramedic.

“I don’t remember people’s names, but I’ve had their blood on my hands,” Melvin said. “We’re kind of tired of it.”

A representative from the Jacksonville mayor’s office attended the meeting, along with Duval County School Board member Warren Jones.

“It’s important to protect our kids because they’re our future,” Jones said. “And it’s difficult to develop a good educational environment when kids are afraid to go to school, afraid to be in school.”

The Interfaith Coalition for Action, Reconciliation and Empowerment, or I-CARE, organized a meeting at Christ the King Catholic Church to address the frequent shootings in Jacksonville.

“Any loss of life is tragic, but five people getting hurt by gun violence in one weekend -- the shooting has to stop,” Pastor Adam Gray said.

RELATED: Deadly 24 hours in Jacksonville; Five shootings and two people dead in violent Thanksgiving holiday

Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office statistics show last year the city had 143 homicides. I-CARE’s research shows the city has the twenty-third highest murder rate among the country’s 75 largest cities.

I-CARE also found that gun violence is impacting black men under the age of 30 the most.

“It’s easy to think that gun violence only affects certain neighborhoods in Jacksonville, but when one of us suffers, when one area suffers, all of us suffer,” Pastor Gray said.

Leaders from I-CARE, the mayor’s office, and Jones agree on three key steps necessary to stop the violence.

When asked by Action News Jax’s Annette Gutierrez how can we fix the problem of kids getting killed, Jones responded, “Prevention, Intervention, and policing -- you got to have all three. You can’t have one without the other.”

State Attorney Melissa Nelson sent a video message that said we all need to step up to help fight crime.

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I-CARE’s next big meeting -- their annual Nehemiah Assembly – is at the Missionary Baptist Church on April 15 at 6:45 p.m.

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