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FORT PIERCE — A 17-year-old boy was shot in the arm in an apparent random street-side shooting — just as 100 people in another part of the city were protesting gunfire in the city.
“Enough is enough,” protest organizer Chris Williams, of Fort Pierce, said of the Monday night shooting. He is with a group named Concerned Citizens United, a community watchdog group.
Since March, there have been about 41 incidents of gunfire in north Fort Pierce in which 21 people were injured, one fatally and two critically.
The latest shooting gives impetus to a meeting that Williams and others previously planned with City Police Chief R. Sean Baldwin on Thursday about getting the city to install an electronic surveillance system in north Fort Pierce to quickly detect gunfire. The system, called ShotSpotter, “is quite effective,” said Rose Anne Brown, a spokeswoman for the Riviera Beach Police Department in Palm Beach County that installed it two years ago.
A ShotSpotter system could cost more than $300,000. But it shortens delays in police being alerted — which was the case in the 6:30 p.m. Thursday shooting of Alex Sirmons near Orange Avenue and 13th Street, about a block from his home.
Sirmons was going home after trying out for the Fort Pierce Central High School basketball team, said his father, Ulysee Sirmons, who himself had arrived home shortly before from work.
Next he heard his son yelling to open the door because he was shot in the right forearm, shattering the bones. The father’s first priority became getting the teen to Lawnwood Regional Medical Center & Heart Institute.
“I was shocked,” the father said of driving along as his son’s arm bled. “He’s a good kid. I’m a protective father. He is not in gangs.”
Now the boy is in a Miami hospital specializing in reconstructive bone surgery.
It was after the father got back from the hospital that he talked with police, giving them the first details of what happened. So far, no arrests have been made. The father quoted his son as saying he was walking along in a hooded sweatshirt when a car went by, then came back and a window rolled down and gunfire erupted.
This isn’t the first time Sirmons’ family has been affected by gunfire in Fort Pierce. The father said his niece was fatally shot about four years ago near 23rd Street and Avenue K. That case remains unsolved, he said.
So is the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Toriell Roberts the night of July 28 as he walked with his mother on Avenue E. Williams said Roberts was trying to protect his mother, Kisha Armstrong, when he saw a group of youths turn and unexpectedly fire on them.
Since then, Armstrong has been having monthly marches to her son’s death site to call for an end to violence and for parents to work more closely with their children. “They (the aggressors) are out there laughing at me,” she said.
Monday’s protest was after Williams and others, including Rene Jordan Wyatt with the Community Outreach Youth Program, met with Baldwin on Saturday to talk about what could be done.
That led to the scheduled meeting on Thursday with Baldwin at the Fort Pierce substation at 1222 Avenue D, said Williams, who hopes to take the matter before the City Commission.
For now, Sirmons hopes someone will come forward and say who shot his son.