South Bend community pulls together to react to weekend violence

SOUTH BEND – Late Tuesday afternoon, police had not made any arrests related to a slew of deadly weekend shootings in South Bend. But people are stepping up and speaking out about stopping the violence.

Comments from one of the top detectives in the case that resulted in the 4th and 5th homicides in the city this year are resonating with some people in the city’s black community who are fed up.

Everyone agrees that children are the most innocent victims of crime in our community.

“It’s time for parents to be parents,” said life-long South Bend resident Michael Martin.

“Our young generation is angry,” added Rev. Cory Gathright, Sr., a minister at New Birth Christian Ministries and the President of the Interdenominational Minister Alliance of St. Joseph County.

“They're angry about not being able to find jobs. They're angry about not being able to pay their rent or their house notes. They're angry about not being able to provide for their children.”

Police are fed up with the violence caused by that anger.

“We are seeing black on black crimes and nobody is helping out. We’ve got to stop this, and we have got to stop this now or we are going to have dead kids out there,” County Metro Homicide Unit Commander Tim Corbett said Sunday.

“That statement there has some validity to it. Unfortunately the truth hurts,” Gathright said. “People are living in fear right now for their lives and for their family's lives, so as a result of that, people won't come forward and tell the truth." 

Gathright knows. A bullet grazed his head in 2006 as he walked out of a local church, trying to protect his son and a parishioner from the gunfire. Police never caught the shooter.

But how do cops end the fear in the black community and begin cooperation?

“It begins in the home, and the parents have to tell the kids, ‘Yeah, there may be certain situations you don't get involved in,’ but when it comes to an innocent person being killed, a mother of two, it's time for everybody to step up,” Martin said.

A father himself, Martin said he organized a meeting Tuesday at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center on the city’s west side so community members could gather and discuss the problem as well as possible solutions.

WSBT was told news media would not be allowed inside that meeting so the group could stay focused and hold its discussion in private.

“We have to teach our children how to communicate,” Gathright said. “We have to teach our African-Americans how to better communicate with one another so they can realize there are some resolves that can take place without taking each other's lives.”

“It’s just time,” Martin added.

Police are urging anyone with information about the weekend shootings that killed Dominique Jackson and Jarina Bailey to come forward. Two other women shot outside a car wash on Lincoln Way West are still recovering but expected to survive, police said.

In a statement issued Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Pete Buttigieg said, “This kind of unacceptable violence is exactly why I started the Anti-Violence Commission, to apply a highly effective group violence reduction strategy. We’re partnering with local, state and federal law enforcement, prosecutors, social services, education, health, and faith leaders to reduce group-related gun violence. Crime is down this year, but even one shooting is one too many. We must do more, and we will.”