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Tallahassee community leaders work to address rising tensions, prevent gang violence

Posted at 6:32 PM, Aug 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-27 18:32:35-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — The latest court documents say the fatal shooting at Time Saver last Friday is part of an ongoing feud between gangs representing the northside and the southside of the Capital City.

The first deadly shooting of that feud goes back to September 2019.

La'Darrius Coleman currently sits behind bars, accused of shooting three people at the Time Saver Convenience Store Friday night including a fatal shot to an innocent bystander.

Tallahassee police say Friday's shooting is just the latest result of rising tensions.

Court documents saying in part:

"Since the latter half of 2019, there have been multiple homicides and shooting incidents attributed to a feud between 'northside' and 'southside' gang members. It began in September 2019 when an associate of the 'northside' gang shot and killed an unknown member of the 'southside' gang."

Following that September 2019 shooting, former Tallahassee Police Public Information Officer Damon Miller called for peace in the community.

The document goes on to say since November, police have responded to multiple fights and shootings involving the two sides. They've also been tracking various social media posts from those involved.

Those shootings mostly involved teenagers, which has inspired community leaders to reach out to the community.

Following the spike in teen and young adult violence at the end of last year, FAMU head football coach Willie Simmons embarked on a mission to get to the root of the problem.

"We wanted to make sure we deterred them from that lifestyle," said Simmons. "These young people have some tough challenges, even today, before today in the form of just care at the house."

Simmons partnered with Griffin Middle School in the Griffin Heights neighborhood.

While the pandemic slowed down the team's momentum Griffin's principal, Zelena O'Banner says the new school year will pick back up.

"We are going to use the first couple of weeks not so much focusing on learning, but the social-emotional background to get them in the groove of learning," O'Banner said.

But community members say gang violence isn't the best way to describe it.

"We hear people talk about gangs, but it's not gangs," said Greg James, a community leader. "What we're dealing with is people who do not know how to resolve conflict."

Centel Deshazier was one of the victims of Friday night's triple shooting at Time Saver. Deshazier died from his injuries.

His aunt and community members say they're finding healing power through rebuilding their community.

"Standing here, I may seem strong but I'm broken on the inside," DeShazier's aunt said. "But what the community is doing, to our family, it's giving us strength."

"In the midst of death, we're seeing life being birthed," said James. "We see a community of young people coming together."

Arrest documents say Campbell as well as the other two men he shot have been linked to multiple shootings since September.