Child safety a concern following shootings in Uptown Harrisburg

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Parents fear for kids’ safety following a spree of gun violence. Four men shot within a few days in one neighborhood have Harrisburg Police increasing patrols.

Kid sleepovers normally consist of movies and popcorn, not duck and cover.

“I just started hearing gunshots,” said a young boy. “That’s when I got a little scared real quick.”

A young boy said he rushed to make sure his younger cousin was not hurt, and then protected himself until the gunfire stopped. He heard a gun battle outside his home at 5th and Peffer, to which police said two men were shot.

Harrisburg Police said they received the call around 3 am early Sunday morning. Two men with gunshot wounds were driven to the hospital by a friend. Police said a 22-year-old man was shot in the left ear and neck while a 19-year-old man was shot in the left arm. Police said both will survive their injuries.

Detective Gabe Olivera said the two victims are not being cooperative with police.

He said this weekend’s shooting is believed to be connected with a similar gun battle last Wednesday.

Valerie Elam who works at a daycare nearby said she heard the “war” that evening while going to her car.

“It was a constant pow, pow, pow, pow, pow,” she said. “I’m like oh, my goodness.”

The barrage of bullets sent Elam running inside her church. Police said the shooting occurred about a block away at 5th and Woodbine.

The young boy said he was playing in the street at the time of Wednesday’s shooting.

“I was outside playing football,” he said. “I heard that, too.”

Police Chief Tom Carter said 30 rounds were fired that sent two men to the hospital. A man in his late teens and another man in his 20s suffered gunshots that night; four victims within four days.

“It’s a shooting. Anybody would be nervous,” said the young boy, “but to happen within a few days between each other, that has to be some sort of coincidence.”

Investigators believe there are two groups of people using gunfire to settle a dispute in public. Olivera said he fears the next round of fire could hit a young life.

Elam has the same concerns. She said there are many kids who live in the neighborhood, not counting the daycare at 5th and Peffer.

“We have a lot of windows here at the church,” she said. “I have concerns about bullets coming through windows and stuff.”

Olivera said police would increase patrols in the neighborhood due to a crime pattern. There were two other reports of “shots fired” in the area, but police said they cannot confirm those shootings are related to others at this time.

Elam said if police are doing their part, neighbors must do theirs to protect little ones.

“It’s time for the community to step up and try to get together so that we can keep our children out of harm’s way,” she said.

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