SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — A surge of high-profile violence continues to plague communities in the Sacramento region, and some are wondering if that surge is nearing its end or just beginning.
When shots rang out at Fair Oaks Park on Monday afternoon, a team of 14-year-old softball players had just finished a game.
“My granddaughter was one of those young ladies, and last night she wouldn’t leave my side,” Mervin Brookins said.
Brookins, CEO of Brother to Brother, a mentoring organization that seeks to help men leave lifestyles of gang violence and incarceration, is all too aware of the increase in high-profile violent crime. He believes the pandemic has been deadly in more ways than one.
“The easiest way to describe it is — look at a person who was incarcerated for a long period of time, their social, emotional, and psychological development stops. Then, one day the doors are open and they are expected to function normally,” Brookins said.
“America was arrested for what a couple of years? Everybody was inside and couldn’t go anywhere,” Brookins said.
Brookins believes the limited counseling and resources available during the worst days of the pandemic, especially for underserved people, is translating to people not knowing how to handle social, emotional and mental challenges.
He said, as a result, they’ve been acting out violently.
“I think that may be the pattern that we may see, but I don’t think these recent acts of violence are indicative of what we are going to see in the summer,” Brookins said.
The question of whether the violence will continue in the coming months is also being addressed by its leaders. Sacramento Vice Mayor Angelique Ashby said placing resources like the newly-opened Natomas Aquatic Center in underserved communities can help keep youth from taking criminal paths.
But she said she recognizes that is part of a big-picture approach aimed at long-term results.
“I can’t make the people of Sacramento any promises that nothing else bad will happen, but what I can make the people a promise of is we are trying everything we can in our power to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Ashby said.
Ashby said that includes more police presence in areas of concern and collaboration with law enforcement across the region.