ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — As violence continues to plague the community, neighbors are saying enough is enough, hoping to stop teens from picking up a gun.
St. Petersburg Police say it is the deadliest year the department has seen with 26 people killed because of gun violence.
Leaders with St. Pete Now and community members met to find a solution at the Bethel Community Baptist Church. The hybrid panel discussion with leaders across the city of St. Petersburg discussed data and trends from the last several years.
"This starts right here, by us working together," St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway said.
He says stolen guns are a part of the problem. At least 50 are taken from unlocked cars per month and end up in the wrong hands.
"I think if you look around in the Tampa Bay area you'll find at least 2-3 guns per night are probably taken out of vehicles," Holloway said.
The group also looked at options like community surveillance, mentorship and equitable opportunities for everyone regardless of where they live.
While they encourage teens to drop the gun – no one knows the consequences better than John Bailey with the Hidden Voices Project.
"I paid the heavy price. I'm 74 years old. I spent 39 years of my life in prison," Bailey said. "The young people that are coming in, they tough in the street, but when you get in there, you're where all the tough people are at. You ain't so tough. You ain't got no gun."
Community leaders are now holding each other accountable and asking parents to step up.
"Parents you have to be willing to talk to your children and be involved," Moderator Corey Givens Jr. said.
This was just the first of a series of conversations.