Community Leader: Gang Violence Is A Sin Problem

By John W. Davis

November 11, 2010 Updated Nov 12, 2010 at 2:31 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - With recent gang violence plaguing Fort Wayne, community leaders are presenting options.

One said fight crime with jobs.

The other said fight crime with God.

"I believe our problem is a sin problem," said Reverend Michael Latham of Renaissance Baptist Church.

"We live in a city of churches... I think God himself is the answer. I think when you look at statistics of whose in church on Sunday morning, even with African-Americans there's probably at least 7,000 statistics shows actually in church on Sunday morning. If that certainly be the truth, that means the church have lost something," preached Latham to Indiana's NewsCenter.

Latham and other area pastors met with Rick O'Shay's owner George Kotsopoulos Thursday.

Rick O'Shay's is the night club where two men were shot and killed Sunday.

Another man was also wounded.

Also, two other people were wounded in possible retaliation this week.

Latham and several pastors are proposing bars work together to maintain a database of patrons who cause trouble.

They believe that is the first step to keep young adults safe at area night clubs.

However, Latham reports that Rick O'Shay's owner George Kotsopoulos did not search females for guns and other weapons Saturday night / early Sunday morning.

Kotsopoulos has called out Fort Wayne Police saying they should perform security duties at his club.

Meanwhile, Fort Wayne Police said past illegal activities are the reason off-duty officers are not allowed to provide security at Rick O'Shay's.

Area pastors will continue to meet with Kotsopoulos and work with him to solve this problem.

Latham said he will personally go to the nightclub one weekend to observe security practices.

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In late 2009, Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry created the Southtown Area Advisory Committee.

The group was commissioned for two years of service.

Their goal developing investment, new business and creating new jobs on Fort Wayne's south side.

But with a stagnant economy and a negative violent crime image, investors are shying away from the city's south side.

Southtown Area Advisory Committee member Charles Hire said it is time to do something different.

On Thursday afternoon, community leaders kicked around a new idea.

"We want to gather all of those properties into one website or one brochure, so we can present to businesses and say here's a picture view of every property that is available. From lot sizes, to what's already developed, what's not developed, what city or county incentives are there to help build on those sites," said Hire.

Hire hopes to have the initiative up and running between the next two to six months.




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