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Community organization working to reduce crime after violent weekend in Valdosta

Posted at 11:12 PM, Jan 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-16 23:12:21-05

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WTXL) — The Valdosta Police Department is investigating a shooting that happened Sunday on South Fry Street that left three people injured. They're also investigating the death of a 19-year-old man on the 2000 block of Fawnridge Road.

It's still unclear whether these two incidents are related or not. However, one community organization is working towards stopping the violence in South Georgia.

"The problem can be solved. Don't think that nothing is impossible. It can be solved," said Reverend JD Martin.

A bigger push now underway to help curb violence in Valdosta. Valdosta Police are investigating the homicide of a 19-year-old after crashing his car into a tree and a shooting that hurt three people in a nearby neighborhood.

Community members like Marry Scurry are shaken by the violent incidents that happened in Valdosta Sunday night.

Scurry lives around the corner of South Fry Street where three people were shot, including two elderly people. She normally sits outside on these benches but hasn't been as much lately due to the recent uptick in violence.

"All I know is we just sit out here and enjoy ourselves with the older people and they just come out here and do all kinds of violent stuff," said Scurry.

Scurry said it's normally safe to be outside but doesn't feel like that anymore after what happened.

She's hoping that community outreach programs will come into her neighborhood soon to help reduce crime. "We need more. You know that's what we need out here, more. We need to stop them out here because it's too bad. Being that the old people get shot up too."

Reverend JD Martin is the CEO of Citizens Against Violence Ministries. It's a non-profit that provides social services, community outreach and SOUL PATROLS to reduce crime in 8 targeted communities in Valdosta.

Martin said crime has gone down in these neighborhoods since having a presence and doing community outreach. According to their data, there were over two dozen shootings in 2019; compared to only 7 in 2022.

"We have proved on a small scale that it can be solved and it's up to us to continue that fight and try to involve as many people as we can," said Martin.

Martin said they have about 60 people currently in the organization. However, they need more people to get involved and board approval to expand into other areas.

"We've contacted several other people. We're not there yet because of the manpower but we're really looking at around South Georgia and expanding into other areas," said Martin.

Martin believes having more community involvement is the first step in reducing crime. "It's up to the community to put a stop to this, it's up to the community. We can have all the police officers we want to but it's up to the community to put a stop to gun violence."

Martin said with a collaborative effort from the Valdosta Housing Authority, Valdosta PD and people in the community, he plans to discuss expanding their outreach efforts into other neighborhoods. But in order to do that, he'll need more volunteers and support.