LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDKY) – Mayor Linda Gorton has declared this week Gun Violence Victims Awareness Week.
On Sunday, a vigil was held for 30-year-old Raymar Webb, who was shot and killed early Saturday morning when shots were fired into a crowd of people in downtown Lexington. Now, community activists are calling for less talk and more action as the number of homicide cases continues to rise.
“What was it, the first day of summer? We’re just getting started. We’ve already reached 20 murders. I’m afraid we’ll reach 40 or more by the end of this year,” Lexington youth mentor Corey Dunn said.
What’s even more concerning to Dunn is seven of the 20 homicides have taken the lives of people 21 and younger.
“If they were in community centers, they may not be getting gunned down in the street,” Dunn said.
Dunn has been fighting to get more funding to open centers. So far, the Dunbar Community Center is the only one open.
“We have murders taking place on Nicholasville Road. We have murders taking place on Alumni, close to Man O’War. We have murders taking place on the sides of town that are traditionally not seeing violence,” Dunn said. “But because this problem is not being addressed, the violence is spreading throughout the city and none of us can really say we’re safe when there are shootouts on Broadway at 5:00 in the afternoon.”
2020 saw a record number of homicides with 34 cases. The city reached its 20th homicide this year by June 19. Looking back over the last decade, this is the earliest we’ve reached this many cases.
“For the children, it reinforces their beliefs that things are dangerous. ‘I have to kill someone, or else I may potentially be killed myself.’ So people who are involved in the violence are more often than not are victims of violence themselves,” Dunn said.
It’s a cycle Dunn says is rooted in poverty and a lack of funding to provide safe places for kids.
City representatives previously said they were happy to work with the community to open more centers. Dunn says they’re still working to get more opened.