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Cure Violence interrupter credited with preventing knife attack in south St. Louis

"He talked to him carefully and he opened up to our interrupter. We're very proud of him," said Sal Martinez.

ST. LOUIS — Community leaders said at least two 911 calls came in Tuesday afternoon.

"There were reports from residents about this individual," said Sal Martinez the CEO of Employment Connection.

Residents said a man walked down the 4600 block of Virginia in south St. Louis armed with a knife and possibly a bat.

"This individual was intending to retaliate against individuals he felt had wronged him," Martinez said.

But, instantly a member of the Cure Violence Dutchtown Team stepped in.

The so-called "Violence Interrupter" was off duty at the time.

5 On Your Side is told before police could find the guy, the interrupter hopped out in his car and went looking for the man and within moments the knife carrier broke down and opened up to the Cure Violence interrupter.

"We're very, very proud of him," Martinez said.

Martinez said the interrupter used his Cure Violence Global training to squash what could have been a violent situation.

"He kept talking to the guy, utilizing techniques to engage the individual and let him know that he was there seeking a peaceful resolution to whatever the conflict was," added Martinez.

5 On Your Side couldn't talk to the Cure Violence  "peacemaker" because his identity must be protected.

For several months now, he and about a dozen other "violence interrupters" have hit the streets on the city's south and north sides.

"We're gonna be working with the community," said Dr. Frederick Echols, the Acting Director of the St. Louis Department of Health.

As part of the city's $7 million anti-crime program, the former felons, drug dealers and gang members hope to cure gun violence, build better relationships with citizens and help people like the knife-carrying man.

"Giving the community a platform to connect with individuals that can help de-escalate or prevent these acts of violence is really critical," Echols said.

"The interrupter will now stay in touch with the man to see what we can do to support him moving forward. I am looking forward to meeting him in the near future," Martinez said.

In addition to the Cure Violence Dutchtown site, which is on Meramec in south city, the Wells Goodfellow/Hamilton Heights and Walnut Park locations are also now open.

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