SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. —
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Detroit— In a week the city elected a new mayor and the state’s governor appeared on national TV news shows touting its revival, residents were dealing with the stark realities of crime in the city — nine dead in seven days.
The incidents began Sunday when a baby girl was delivered after her mother and a companion were killed in the 9200 block of Meyers Road, on the west side near Joy and West Chicago.
On Wednesday, three men were killed and six were wounded in a shootout in a barbershop on Seven Mile near Keystone in northeast Detroit.
Early Friday, three people were found dead on the living room floor of a west side house. Later in the day, at 5:05 p.m., a man’s body was discovered in a garbage can in northwest Detroit. Police said they would await autopsy results from Wayne County Medical Examiner to determine whether it was a homicide.
According to the police, these latest homicides bring the total in Detroit for the year to 292, including the addition of 17 slayings in the past 10 days.
Detroit Police Chief James Craig was unavailable Friday for comment on the spate of killings, but his spokesman, Detroit Police Sgt. Michael Woody, said the department is doing what it can to respond to the violence. But police cannot do it alone, he cautioned.
“The reality of it is we’ve had a violent week of crime,” Woody said. “Everyone in this department is very cognizant of it. But at some point, the public has to take culpability and be a part of the solution. It’s not just a Detroit Police Department problem, it’s a city of Detroit problem, and we all need to stand together.”
Bill Nowling, a spokesman for Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, said the week’s violence highlights the dire challenges facing the city.
“It underlines to a certain degree what we’re up against in terms of restructuring,” he said. “It emphasizes why public safety and delivery of services need to be the top priority for the city.”
Nowling called the crimes “tragic and senseless,” but noted that most were committed in the presence of other illegal activities. “That’s why it’s important that we’re able to get through this restructuring process so we can make investments in increasing police activity,” he said.
Ron Scott, director of the Coalition Against Police Brutality, said the examples of violence plaguing Detroit are based on myriad issues that include substance abuse, domestic violence and other crimes.
“Every battle or argument is not meant to be a battle that ends a life,” Scott said, whose group also emphasizes conflict resolution in neighborhoods to curtail crime before it happens. “It becomes easy to resolve something and not even know the consequences. We have allowed ourselves to be desensitized to black on black murder. But we can get a grip on it.”
Malik Shabazz, a longtime activist who has been working to empower residents to fight crime, said crime is a “bigger and more pervasive problem than any of us realize.” It will take a massive effort from every resident to cure Detroit’s violent ills, he added.
“The city of Detroit is a microcosm of a macrocosm of our nation. It’s a violent nation that we live in,” Shabazz said. “We as a society, as a nation, as a city, we are failing to create good human beings. Good human beings have to be molded, have to be taught, have to shown.”
Shabazz said his Marcus Garvey Movement, which has been going block to block in an attempt to stop crime before it happens, reports some successes. But “the city can’t be saved by one organization,” he said. “Everybody’s got to get involved. Everybody’s got a role to play in fighting this crime and grime that takes place.”
He made the comments later Friday after reports that police had been called to the 3200 block of West Philadelphia where the bodies of a woman, 22, and two men, 32 and 35, each with gunshot wounds to the head, had been found on the floor in a lower unit of a house.
Only a day earlier, the police chief had described the shootings at the barbershop as an act of “urban terrorism.”
One local minister warned Friday the violent death of an African-American in Detroit “has become normal.”
“The challenge is how to sensitize people to the fact that this is not normal that we live in a war zone,” said the Rev. David Bullock, pastor Greater St. Matthew Baptist Church.
Scott said he believes city residents can start paying attention to stopping crime if they are properly engaged. He cited an incident in which members of his organization interceded last year and helped convince a man who had his bicycle stolen by some youth from getting into an altercation. Scott said that same evening his group was putting on a play about curtailing violence.
“We can’t just react,” Scott said. “We have to focus on the sanctity of life.”
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click picture to view December 2010 police report
“Florida’s mandatory 10-20-life gun law forced the Court to impose an arbitrary, unjust and completely inappropriate sentence,” said Greg Newburn, Florida project director for Families Against Mandatory Minimums, a group that fights to repeal such laws. “As long as Florida keeps its inflexible gun sentencing laws, we will continue to see cases like Ms. Alexander’s.”
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Victims: Amber Mederos with her daughter Lilly, two, were shot and killed as was Ready’s girlfriend Lisa Mederos, 47, who had been living with him at the time
Slaying: Amber Mederos, 22, and her boyfriend Jim, also 22, were killed in the shooting, as was their two-year-old daughter Lily
Although not officially confirmed by police in Gilbert, it is thought that J.T Ready shot and killed his 47-year old girlfriend, Lisa Mederos, Lisa’s daughter 22-year-old Amber Mederos, Amber’s 22-year-old boyfriend Jim and Amber’s 2-year old daughter Lilly.
Listed as the treasurer of the J.T Ready for Sheriff of Pinal County, Lisa Mederos had been living with Ready at her home for the past two years.
Dispute: Police have said that there had been a reported incident of domestic violence between Ready, pictured left, and Lisa Mederos earlier in the day
Family: Amber Mederos, boyfriend Jim Hiott and daughter Lilly were all shot. Lilly was still alive when police arrived but died later in the hospital
‘There were a few weapons in the house and we don’t know if there was a gun battle or if it was a murder-suicide,’ said Sgt Bill Balafas of Gilbert Police.
Police have said that there had been a reported incident of domestic violence between Ready and Mederos earlier in the day.
It has also been revealed that Mederos’ other 19-year-old daughter was not at home at the time of the killings and is now being interviewed by police.
Explaining the scene that confronted emergency workers, Sgt Balafas said that the toddler was taken to hospital by the first responders.
‘There were signs of life, that’s why we transported her,’ said Sgt Balafas.
‘This is a domestic situation. We do have witnesses that our investigators are interviewing.’
Horror: Gilbert police officers walk inside the police tape outside a crime scene on Wednesday after four people, including a toddler, were fatally shot
Tragic loss: Neighbours in the residential street have expressed their shock at the massacre with some saying they feel sick
In January of 2012, he even announced his candidacy to run as a Democratic Candidate for Pinal County Sheriff.
‘I am sick to my stomach, as you can tell everyone driving by is absolutely shocked,’ said DeAnn Rawson.
Another neighbour who witnessed the police and emergency services reaction to the crime was equally upset.
‘There’s no excuse for taking a child’s life,’ said Gary Davis.
‘Nothing ever happens in this neighbourhood. It’s a shock to us.’
Gilbert police Lt John Lyle told The Arizona Republic that authorities aren’t looking for a suspect in Wednesday afternoon’s shooting at the home.
Identified as the killer, Ready is a former Marine and the founder of the prominent, Arizona-based nativist extremist organisation ‘Americans First’.
He has stated in the past that ‘I firmly believe in having a minefield across the border,’ he says in a widely distributed video.
‘This is 100% effective.’
Ready has in the past spoken at National Socialist Movement rallies in Omaha and is a vocal opponent of unchecked immigration in to the United States.
The former military serviceman had recently set up the U.S Border Guard, a militia-style group that routinely patrolled the southern Arizona desert searching for illegal immigrants.
And in January 2012, he announced his candidacy to run as a Democratic candidate for Pinal County Sheriff.
A statement of organisation filed on January 11 has an Amber Maderos listed as the treasurer of the Committee to Elect J.T Ready.
However, her name was not mentioned in amended paperwork filed by Ready on March 12 of this year.
Part of the burgeoning volunteer militia scene in Arizona, neo-Nazi Ready was known around Phoenix as a man who was keen to take matters into his own hands.
Declaring war on ‘narco-terrorists’ and illegal immigrants, Ready’s reputation made local law enforcement officials nervous, especially given his association with the National Socialist Movement (NSM).
Subscribing to the belief that only non-Jewish, white hetro-sexuals should be American citizens and that all non-white people should leave the country, Ready readily admitted identifying with the NSM.
‘We’re not going to sit around and wait for the government anymore,’ said Ready in an interview with the Associated Press in 2010.
‘This is what our founding fathers did.’
Twice court martialed, Ready received a bad-conduct discharge from the Marines in 1996 for conspiracy and assault.
In 2004, the Arizona native decided to adopt a career in politics and ran for a seat in the Arizona House of Representatives.
One of his main campaign pledges was to defeat the threat posed to America by undocumented immigrants.
He told a reporter during the run up to the election that Arizona could improve its education if it would ‘deal with this mass illegal influx of foreign students who not even embrace the same language and culture as Americans and who spread tuberculosis, whooping cough, lice, and other third-world biological diseases to other children.’
He lost the election.
And in March 2006, Ready made headlines when he opened fire at a Latino man with a BB gun when running for the Mesa City Council.
No charges were pressed over the incident and his second run for office was derailed when he volunteered to act as master of ceremonies at the Mesa Veteran’s Day parade.
It was revealed before hand that he had been twice court-martialed and kicked out of the Marines.
Creating the anti-immigration group ‘Americans First’ in 2006, Ready marched on the Mexican consulate in Phoenix.
‘We are advocating that the government of Mexico should be designated a ‘threat nation’ because they are openly subverting our laws and sovereignty,’ said Ready at the time.
Finally in 2006 running as the only candidate Ready became the Republican precinct committeeman in a west Mesa district.
But in September 2007, he marched under a swastika banner in Omaha, Nebraska with brown-shirted NSM leaders.
Coming to the attention of the Arizona legislature, attempts were made to expel Ready from his position as a committeeman, but these failed.
Claiming to have left the NSM in 2010, Ready had indicated to the media that he was concentrating on his volunteer militia work and his personal life
The shootings occurred after 1pm Witnesses say a SWAT team sealed off part of the area and investigators told residents to remain indoors.
A middle school near the scene of the shooting was locked down and students weren’t allowed to come in or out of the campus.
Gilbert is a quiet bedroom community south-east of Phoenix that was named the safest city in Arizona, and one of the safest in the whole country by CQ Press.
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