Shooting on St. Paul's east side despite increased patrols - FOX 35 News Orlando

Shooting reported on St. Paul's east side despite increased patrols

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Just days after St. Paul Police Chief Tom Smith promised to up patrols on the city's east side in the wake of recent violence, bullets flew just a few blocks from where a man was brutally beaten.

Police are quick to point out that there were no homicides in the city's east side over the weekend and the department believes the extra officers are making a difference.

Even so, residents affected by acts of violence over the weekend say more needs to be done.

"This is where I was standing, and this is a bullet hole right here," Julie Wertman demonstrated for FOX 9 News.

For most people, home is a sanctuary -- a safe place to get away from the outside world, but for Wertman and her neighbors, the violence plaguing the Dayton's Bluff and Phalen neighborhoods is quite literally hitting home.

"As I hid down here, there was a ricochet bullet that hit right here," Wertman continued.

There are several bullet holes in the duplex on Bedford Street, including one that went through a window.

"It was about one inch from my head," Wertman said. "My first reaction was, 'Get down and get safe' for my family, for my kids. They need their mom."

According to Wertman, she and her neighbors were outside their home just after midnight on Sunday morning when a car with four young men inside drove past. A few moments later, they returned and opened fire.

"Pow, pow, pow!" Monique Ferguson recalled. "'F the east side!' or something like that. Pow! Pow! Pow! Pow! Pow! Pow!"

Luckily, the five bullets didn't hit anyone -- but for Ferguson, who is nine months pregnant, her sense of security was certainly struck. In fact, she says neither she nor her four children have been able to sleep since because they are worried the shooters may come back.

"Every car that comes by, I'm looking at it," she said. "Is it another person coming to shoot?"

During a heated community meeting last Thursday, St. Paul Police said 30 officers have been assigned to the east side specifically to respond to gangs of young people causing problems -- but police say they won't be able to solve all the problems in one weekend.

"We haven't had some of the violence we've seen," Howie Padilla, public information officer for the St. Paul Police Department, told FOX 9 News. "In that aspect, we can feel okay with that. Can we be entirely satisfied? No."

Yet, both Ferguson and Wertman wonder how much good the extra patrols are doing if they can't even stand outside their own home without being targeted.

"I'm ready to move out of the east side," Ferguson admitted. "I don't trust what the cops are saying because I haven't seen it."

Police also hope the spike in gang violence will calm down once school starts in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, they are investigating the weekend shooting, but no arrests have been made.

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