City leaders vow to ‘accelerate efforts’ to stop violence after teen’s murder

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – Mayor-elect Randall Woodfin joined civil rights leader Bishop Calvin Woods and other members of the faith-based community at a press conference Thursday morning at Kelly Ingram Park after the city marked it’s 91st homicide of the year.

“It’s an epidemic in our city,” said Woodfin.  “Ninety-one murders.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the Bishop has made it very clear: this is something we can’t afford to be silent about.  This is not something we can afford to sit on the sideline about.”

Around midnight, Wednesday, 15 year-old Miracle McNeal was shot and killed inside of her grandmother’s home.  Her grandmother, Bobbie Towns, told CBS 42 that she thought the gunfire was firecrackers, initially, because of how many rounds were being fired.  Towns said that Miracle was trying to escape from her bedroom when she was hit by a bullet and fell.  Police still don’t have a motive or a suspect at this time.

McNeal’s principal, Shun Williams, at Midfield High school described her as a respectful and well-liked student who loved going to class.  “These days, engaging students at school is somewhat challenging,” said Williams.  “To have a child that has a love for school — I think that’s a jewel, you know?”

Woods said he decided to hold Thursday’s press conference because he felt as though the faith-based community needs to let the public hear their voice.  “We’re going to have seminars,” he said.  “We’re going to have conferences.  We’re going to stay active–meeting together.  We’re going to have community-wide revivals with as many as will come.”

Woodfin talked about making changes to policing–especially in high-crime areas.  “We’re going to have to light those areas up at night,” he explained.  “We’re going to have to activate cameras.  We’re going to have to do neighborhood watch a different way during the daytime and nighttime.”

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