Deadly shootings tied to gang violence prompts new Orange County citizen task force

3-year-old boy among victims in recent string of gang-related shootings

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings launched a new task force hoping to fight crime and get results in the community after a surge of deadly shootings tied to gang violence.

Three-year-old Daquane Felix was killed in his Orange County home last month in what deputies say was a drive-by gang retaliation shooting. The shooting happened only a few days after 14-year-old Denis Atkinson was also killed not far away in a separate drive-by shooting.

[RELATED: Crimeline still seeking tips in deaths of 14-year-old, 3-year-old killed]

The new citizens safety task force is comprised of pastors, young people, law enforcement and community leaders. Their goal is trying to find active ways to fight crime and keep families safe.

“I’m tired of it, because Pine Hills didn’t use to be like this at all,” said resident Jacqueline Emigh.

She explained she is tired of crime and gang activity in her community.

“How would you feel if someone shot your child?” said Emigh.

Leslie Jones lives nearby and has four children.

“Unless you start giving people hope. We’re going to start going down this pathway,” said Jones.

Demings said the new task force is aimed at reducing and preventing gun violence.

“To be successful, we will need a comprehensive approach to stop the victimization of families and neighborhoods,” Demings said. “The solution does not reside with government and law enforcement alone. It will take a collaborative effort of individuals representing diverse backgrounds who can help identify community solutions to longstanding problems.”

Bishop Kelvin Cobaris is on the task force.

“I’m going in with a mindset of not just speaking what I feel but really representing what I’ve heard from the community,” Cobaris said.

The first step, according to Cobaris, begins with listening and reaching out to people where they are. That’s why he’s already hosted community meetings and has been talking with rappers and promoters hoping to better reach young people.

“When I go out with people who I feel understands them better than I do not only know will they listen to me they’re also going to listen to this guy who can say, ‘hey I’ve been apart of the street life I know the outcome of this and I’m feeling you there’s a better way,’” said Cobaris.

Neighbors told said they hope the task force will be effective.

Their first meeting is November 6 at 1:30 p.m. News 6 is still working to find out how often the task force will meet.

About the Author:

Jerry Askin is an Atlanta native who came to News 6 in March 2018 with an extensive background in breaking news.