ST. LOUIS — St. Louis leaders and residents of crime-ridden neighborhoods and city leaders say they are fed up with the violence, including a particularly brutal Monday night when 17 people were injured in seven different shootings.
No one died from any of the shootings, though two of the injured were in critical condition. Residents expressed their frustration with the frequent violence. Among them was Juanita Sparks, 60. On Tuesday, sitting at her front door with a granddaughter, she said she plans to move out.
"I am tired of thugs," Starks said. "We go in at night and stay in, no matter what. It's too rough a life here."
Mayor Francis Slay told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/172FF3x ) that he, too, is frustrated by the violence.
"In the vast majority of these cases, people are using their guns to settle their own petty feuds, and that's really what's very unfortunate and outrageous about this," Slay said.
Investigators believe many of the victims and attackers were acquainted. Police pledge to intensify patrols, including putting about 75 detectives who are normally in plainclothes into uniform to increase police visibility.
University of Missouri-St. Louis criminologist Rick Rosenfeld, working under contract to help city police develop enforcement strategies, says aggravated assaults involving guns rose 20 percent in 2012. They were down 25 percent so far in 2013, but violence often increases as weather turns hot.
Police Lt. Col. Alfred Adkins said the city averages 33 firearms-related incidents per week. Still, Monday's violence was rare.
No arrests had been made in any of the attacks by late Tuesday. Police believe the shootings were unrelated.
"We're always concerned about retaliation, especially with no one in custody or arrested," Adkins said. "Some of the people, we know, are documented gang members that were involved in disputes that occurred beforehand."
Slay renewed a call for establishment of a dedicated "armed-offender docket" to focus on violent crimes. An effort to have the Missouri Legislature force the issue failed this spring.
"These are disputes, and there are victims who won't talk to the police," Slay said. "Trying to make an arrest isn't that simple. In one case, they've got (multiple) people shot and not one of them would identify the shooter."
Resident Albert James cited a list of frustrations — too many young people without discipline or work, too many guns, not enough churchgoing, too much glorification of violence in popular music.
"I like city living," James, 45, said. "I just wish some parents would quit being afraid of their kids and act like parents. So much of our society is so wrong."
Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com