After a bloody week capped by the fatal shooting of a teenager Thursday morning, Mayor Keith Bell said the level of violence in the city was “unacceptable” and he called for a community effort to reduce gun crimes.
“Any time there are deaths in our community from unnatural causes, it’s alarming and concerning,” Bell, who took over the mayor’s office this week, said. “This incident without question is alarming and concerning, especially when it comes on the heels of many other similar incidents.”
City leaders were committed to addressing the violence and making La Marque a safer community, Bell said.
“What we have been dealing with in our community is unacceptable,” Bell said. “It will not be tolerated. We are not there today; but La Marque will be the safest city in Texas.
Derion Chambers, 18, of Galveston, was shot and killed near the 2400 block of Main Street in La Marque just before midnight, officials said. Another person, who has not been named, was wounded in the shooting, and two teenagers were charged in connection to the crimes.
It’s the third fatal shooting in county in less than a week — the others occurred at the La Marque/Texas City border and in Galveston — and was the latest incident during a wave of violence occurring for months. Police have suggested that some of the shootings are connected.
The violence has reached “heartbreaking” levels, Bell said. He has received calls from longtime residents of the city of about 17,000 people, telling him they no longer feel safe there.
Volunteer organizations have worked to decrease the violence in La Marque, but Bell said it was time for the general public to become more involved in discussions about what’s causing it and how to stop it.
“We do have community groups that are trying to address the violence, but what we need is total buy-in,” Bell said. “A community organization can only go as far as the willingness of the members of the community to engage.
“We can have all sorts of community organizations that are designed to stop violence, but if our community at large don’t engage with those organizations, then the chance for impact and success is greatly reduced,” he said.
Bell said he intended to reach out to Chambers’ parents, as well as the family of the other victim, and would meet with them in person if the families will allow him to.
Bell said it was important to him that city leaders acknowledge the pain and suffering of people affected by gun violence.
“It should be unacceptable for anybody in our community to die, especially from gun violence,” Bell said.
Bell became mayor, officially, as the new year began. Mayor Bobby Hocking earlier this week announced he would resign his position for personal reasons. The resignation was effective as of today.
Under the city’s charter, the mayor pro tem becomes the city’s mayor when the position is vacated. Bell will hold the position at least until the city holds its next election in May.