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Community groups seek to help end Omaha violence, particularly among youth

Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 6:17 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - In the last seven days, Omaha has seen four homicides. A common theme in a number of the shootings: teen suspects or victims.

For the past five years, YouTurn has been working to prevent violence in the Omaha community.

Overnight, Omaha saw its eighth shooting in just six days and its fourth murder in a week.

“Any life that’s lost is tragic because that means there is a person, a human being who no longer has an opportunity to move forward in their life to see their full potential,” says Teresa Negron, YouTurn Executive Director.

Omaha Police say a number of the shootings we are seeing are gang-related. OPD says now the focus is on getting guns out of the hands of teens. That involves help from community groups like YouTurn.

But executive director Teresa Negron says COVID-19 has prevented them from doing a lot of the hands-on work they are used to.

“We haven’t been able to do a lot of the programming that we would do within the school system. So, we are still able to communicate with participants in our program by phone and some virtually.”

Teens and young adults involved in YouTurn do so voluntarily. That means it can get difficult to reach those kids that don’t want help getting out of a violent lifestyle. That makes outreach, like the kind they do in schools, is even more important.

“When something happens in the community we make contact with people we have been working with to find out what’s going on, what prompted the incident, and then we are working to resolve that conflict,” says Negron.

YouTurn leaders say when the community sees more shootings, it doesn’t mean community programs aren’t working.

“Moving the needle even a little bit is a success. So when every time there is a shooting that happens, it doesn’t mean that any program that’s out there is not successful. So we will continue to fight.”

Omaha Police still need your help to solve some of the recent shootings. Anyone who may have information should call CrimeStoppers; where tips can also be reported anonymously.

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