ORLANDO, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings is calling on the community to step up to address violence in Pine Hills.
Just in the last few weeks, a doctor was shot and robbed in his own office and a young mother was killed while sitting in her car at a gas station.
“Since January, we've seen 12 homicides in Pine Hills, about half of them involve teenagers,” Demings said.
He says his office is working with local schools to keep kids out of gangs. He also tells us deputies have stepped up patrols in the area.
“We've made a number of good arrests but there really is no shortage of individuals who are choosing to get involved in violent behavior and so were reaching out to the community saying we've got to do things differently so we can change things,” Demings told FOX 35.
He’s asking people to speak up about what they see. According to Demings, witnesses were crucial in identifying the suspects from the Citgo gas station shooting that left Kendra Lewis dead.
Going a step further, the sheriff says people need to volunteer and become mentors to stop these crimes from happening in the first place.
“Somehow, we as a community need to infiltrate that group of individuals,” Demings said. “We’re going to have to figure out how to spend some time where they are and redirect their behaviors.”