ORLANDO, Fla. – News 6 spoke with Orlando City Commissioner Regina Hill as she walked through the Jernigan Gardens Apartments after three separate shootings there in 10 days.
She got emotional seeing the make-shift memorial in place there for 22-year-old hairstylist and mother of two Macayla Patterson, who died after investigators said there was a large fight and shooting back on Sept. 22.
“It’s not just my responsibility, but I do feel accountable for them. That’s why I came,” Hill said. “We’ve got to teach them about de-escalation, how to resolve their issues versus shooting.”
The recent shootings happened at a complex that’s been long troubled by violence and drugs, though it recently underwent a multi-million-dollar renovation.
“If I can say anything, I need to come back and do greater outreach,” Hill said.
Commissioner Hill spent part of Monday letting residents know about the city’s many programs to try to help children and families.
Programs like the Mercy Drive Kids Zone Program are aimed at increasing performance at school and reducing juvenile crime.
Also, the Community Violence Intervention Program consists of what’s called Neighborhood Change Associates, who serve as mentors and life coaches for people who may be going down the wrong path.
“So what more can I do is to work with them and change their mindset,” Hill said.
Junay Morris is a single mother of five children who lives at Jernigan Gardens. She said she’s tired of having to duck for cover in her own home.
“A couple of times, my oldest son, he’ll grab all of my little kids, and he’ll say, ‘Get down,’” resident Junay Morris said. “Every parent over here is concerned about their kids and doing the utmost to keep their kids safe.”
News 6 has asked police for recent calls for service at that complex to get more perspective on the volume of crime there.
In the meantime, Commissioner Hill said the apartments should not be easy to access and that she’s calling for more security there.
News 6 has reached out to property owners there for a comment about safety.
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