MIAMI (CBS4) – Parents are worried, police say they need help, and children are left wondering if their neighborhood park is safe anymore. They all attended a big community meeting Thursday night, two days after two men shot up the park with an assault rifle.
Of everyone at the community meeting, 14-year-old Debonair Blake should have been the most concerned about its outcome. He was one of four young people hit by a bullet when ruthless shooters fired an AK-47 and a handgun into the West Little River Park during youth football practice Tuesday evening.
“I was quite afraid,” admits Blake.
Around 200 players, coaches, and parents met with police and politicians to address their fears that another shooting attack could happen here.
“You hit me once and I get away you’re going to have to fight me the next time, and that’s what we’re doing right now,” Northside Panthers football team president Terry Joseph told the crowd.
Many are demanding more police presence, Miami-Dade Police officials say they’ve stepped up crime prevention efforts in the area but they say the community has to play a role in keeping itself safe.
“You guys need to make some noise, you guys need to let me know what’s happening, the more calls you get, the more services, the more police there will be,” explained Major Garry Jeanniton.
Kendalese Rose is so shaken by the shooting she plans to pull her son from the football team altogether. The meeting didn’t change her mind.
“I have his gear packed in my car to turn back over to the park. My son’s safety comes first,” Rose told CBS4’s Natalia Zea.
South Florida Youth Football League managers are also worried and are evaluating whether it’s safe for other teams to play in West Little River.
Blake is confident in police and his community, and says nothing will stop him from playing for the team he’s been part of for more than half of his life.
“I love my coach and I feel everybody on the team is my family and I feel if I leave I’d be letting them down,” said Blake. “I ain’t going nowhere.”
Football practice starts again Monday.