By Art Holliday
ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - St. Louis residents tired of street violence spoke directly to Mayor Francis Slay and Police Chief Sam Dotson Thursday night at a standing room only town hall meeting at the Demetrious Johnson Foundation on Union Boulevard.
There was tough talk and tears as St. Louisans struggle with street violence, a problem with no easy solutions.
"I had to bury my 9-year-old son today," said Tache Short, sobbing into the microphone. Last week, 9-year-old Tyrese Short was fatally shot when the SUV he was riding in was riddled with bullets on Goodfellow Avenue.
"We lost a beautiful, happy 9-year-old boy last week," said Mayor Slay. "It was senseless act of violence in our city. That's something that should outrage every single person wherever they live in our city, or the St. Louis region for that matter."
Radio station HOT104.1 organized the town hall meeting.
"We got kids dying, kids shooting each other," said Boogie D, the radio station operations manager. "We got nine-year-old kids getting shot. We have to do something."
There have been 56 homicides in St. Louis this year. On any given night or day, gang warfare, drug rivalries, and drive-by shootings keep St. Louis police busy. Chief Dotson says progress is being made.
"Right now we have 10 fewer homicides in the City of St. Louis this year than last. Overall, crime is down over 7 percent," said Chief Dotson.
Statistics are little consolation when it's your teenage daughter who was killed. Rochelle Cook stood in line at the town hall meeting before taking the microphone.
"For someone to kill my child, my only child. She was an honor student three weeks from going to Missouri State University," said Cook.
Almost one year ago, Aniya Cook was sitting in a car with her boyfriend when shots were fired into the vehicle. A 25-year-old man was charged with the crime last December. Can a grieving mother find answers at a town hall meeting?
"Before you're a victim of crime, you don't get involved," said Rochelle Cook. "At this point, I'm involved. I'm all in. Whatever town hall meeting they want to have, anything that I can be of help, I will be there because the crime has to stop."
Complicating violence, crime, and punishment is the so-called G-Code, the no-snitch culture where criminals frighten people from sharing information with police.
"If we don't have the community's help there's some crimes that we can't solve," Chief Dotson.