MIDDLETOWN — At least two grassroots groups are looking at ways of reducing gun violence in the city after two 25-year-old Middletown men were killed this month in the city’s first double homicide in three years.
Daniel Fitzgerald and Marvin Davis were gunned down on the morning of Feb. 4 in their 15th Avenue home, according to police. No arrests have been made.
Spurred by City Manager Paul Lolli, an initiative called “Not In Middletown,” has been formed with the goal of aiming teens away from gun violence and building relationships inside and outside the home, he said. City and church leaders met last week and will meet every Wednesday morning in the Middletown Division of Police department until solutions are formulated, according to Lolli.
Then on Monday night, a group of about 25 people, led by Celeste Didlick-Davis, president of the Middletown NAACP, gathered at Faith Fellowship Church to plan ways to connect young men with better problem solving skills, educational opportunities, available jobs, finance management and with older mentors.
As she began the meeting, Didlick-Davis said: “Without God, we will not be successful.”
Marc Dixon, first vice president of the local NAACP, called the meeting “the first step toward changing our community. It’s time to go to work.”
The group plans to have another meeting in two weeks at the same church.
After much discussion and brain-storming, Jeff Wilder, 48, pastor at First Christian Church, warned the group: “None of this will change overnight.”
Davis said there are numerous educational programs available in the Middletown City School District, but they need to be extended beyond high school. She’d like opportunities available for those 18 to 30. She said there is “a gap in services.”
Several of those who spoke during the meeting addressed the need to teach young men financial responsibility. Dixon said at-risk men need to “find a solution” for revenue rather than the streets. If they obtain “long-term” financial stability, they won’t have to be worried about their safety, he said.
Dixon, a father of three children, two sons and one daughter, said the city needs to take the necessary steps to “not let these kids get lost.”