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Lexington looks to national group for help with youth gun violence

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Posted at 6:30 PM, Jul 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-08 18:30:37-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Lexington is on pace to smash the record it set a year ago for gun-related homicides and local leaders are working on a solution.

Mayor Linda Gorton asked the Urban County Council to approve the $100,000 contract with Cities United, which would be fully funded by a grant the city already has. The vote to use the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust happens on Thursday.

However, the city's other youth violence prevention and intervention programs Safety Net and One Lexington will continue.

2020 saw a record number of gun-related homicides, but the violence in Lexington appears to be getting worse. In 2021 so far, there have been 63 shootings and 22 homicides, according to police data.

The latest double homicide happened on Independence day.

Twenty-nine of the shooting victims were 21 years old or younger. Seven homicide victims were 21 years old or younger.

Community members like gun violence prevention advocate Andre Maxberry are frustrated and ready for change.

"There's a lot of mothers and grandmothers that have lost children, you know, unnecessarily to gun violence, and this needs to stop," said Maxberry.

She's lost at least 5 people since last August. Her nephew, Lowell Washington, was shot and killed in April. Her grandson Mykel Waide was killed last August.

"After my grandson got killed, I just felt like I had a need to get out here and try to fight for what Lexington used to be- a peaceful town to live in," said Maxberry.

Maxberry feels the violence is fueled by misunderstandings and easily accessible guns in the wrong hands.

"A lot of them don't know how to cope. You know they don't feel like they have someone that they can really go and talk to, but they don't want counseling," said Maxberry.

Maxberry says she and other moms are pleased to hear about progress from city leaders that promised it for years.

"I think it's worth a try. I think giving someone, giving other groups that have went through and dealt with some of the stuff that we're dealing with a try because they know what, you know what's been going on in other cities and towns surrounding us. I think it's worth it to try it. I would never say, don't you know, unless it was to fail. Because everybody deserves a chance," said Maxberry.

With several groups and non-profits already in Lexington aimed at preventing gun violence, the questions now are how and will this work.