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Pottstown residents come together at a vigil for homicide victim

By John Craven, Reporter, JCraven@wfmz.com
Published On: Jun 06 2014 10:37:27 PM CDT

Pottstown residents come together at a vigil for homicide victim

POTTSTOWN, Pa. -

"Take back our streets." 

That was the theme at a candlelight vigil Friday night for Pottstown's latest murder victim.

Just 24 hours earlier, Steven "Mitch" Mitchell was gunned down inside a car in the 400 block of Jefferson Avenue.  Mitchell was only 20 years old, and had just been out of jail for a few weeks, friends said.

More than 50 friends and relatives, as well as local clergy and Pottstown's mayor, attended the memorial.

"We should not be doing no memorial for Mitch," said friend Lashauna Simmons.     "He was a good person and he didn't deserve what happened to him."

At times, the vigil became heated.  One parent became angry at what many see as Pottstown streets that are getting too dangerous.

"What's going to be done?", the woman shouted.  "I came up here from Philly, and I ain't come here to live like this."

Pottstown mayor Sharon Valentine-Thomas said illegal guns and drugs have become a major problem here and throughout the region.

"The root of crime is choice," she said.  "Someone has a gun; they're choosing to act irresponsibly with that gun."

Pastors pleaded with young people to let them help take back the streets.

"We were out here," one said.  "We weren't always serving the Lord.  We weren't always walking the walk that we walk now, and we understand.  So come and talk to me."

The mayor said changes are coming soon to clamp down on crime.

"I speak to the police department daily," said Valentine-Thomas.  "There are some shifting strategies that are coming into position, and I think there are going to be more foot patrols by concerned citizens."

As for Mitchell's murder, police and prosecutors have been tight lipped about their investigation.