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Residents on edge after violent weekend in Reading

By Catherine Hawley, Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Jul 15 2012 08:25:02 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 16 2012 10:54:26 AM CDT

Residents react to violent weekend in Reading

READING, Pa. -

Two shootings within two days have put Reading residents on edge.

About 20% of Berks County residents live in Reading, but 65% of the homicides last year happened in the city, according to police. Neighbors told us the violence is getting out of control.

One man was killed and another was shot in the face just six blocks and about 24 hours apart, police said.

A man was walking down the street around 9 p.m. Saturday when he was hit with a bullet in the face, police said.

"I was terrified, honestly," said Louis Flores, who lives right where the shooting happened near North 10th and Oley streets. "I don't know exactly if he was trying to get in to be safe or whatever, but he dropped right in front of my house."

Seeing the flashing lights and crime scene tape was a shock for Flores after waking up from a nap.

Police searched the neighborhood for witnesses and evidence while the victim was rushed to a hospital. He's expected to be OK, police said.

That's a better outcome than the gunfire that happened about 24 hours earlier. A drug-fueled shooting took the life of Janzir Antoine on Friday night, police said.

The 19-year-old was found dead near North 10th and Perry streets. We're told he was shot in the chest.

Police wouldn't say if the two shootings are related, but folks living nearby said the gun violence is becoming unbearable.

"We're all afraid," said Sandra Burkhart. "Because we're not safe during the day or at night."

"It makes me feel unsafe in my own home," said Marie Krepps.

The streets are so dangerous, Krepps said she can't even trust the people she shares a wall with.

"I don't know these people. I don't know how they are. I don't know their reactions," she said.

Neighbors said they're always on edge and think nothing will change because they're living in fear.

"There's too many people out here with guns," explained Burkhart. "Too many drugs and nobody helps one another."

"The city's just getting worse and worse with its crime rate; it's just unbelievable," said Flores.

The constant gunfire turns into constant worry, and residents fed up are moving out.

"I wish everyone would stick together and help one another. Maybe we could change the city back to the way it was," hoped Burkhart.

Reading's mayor, Vaughn Spencer, has made it his mission to make the streets safer. From 2010 to 2011, robberies, assaults and burglaries have gone down, but violent crimes remain the same.