South Bend leaders ask for peace after 7-year-old girl killed in drive-by shooting

NOW: South Bend leaders ask for peace after 7-year-old girl killed in drive-by shooting

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SOUTH BEND, Ind.-- A plea for peace, a plea for justice and a plea for prayer, after 7-year-old Chrisyah Stephens, an unintended target, was shot and killed in a drive-by while at a birthday party over the weekend.

Community members holding a prayer rally outside of Riley High School in response to the ongoing violence in South Bend.

“We’ve got to start doing things, we got to show this community that there are people in this community that care and who want to make a difference and who want to see a difference in this community,” South Bend resident Vicki VanNevel said.

South Bend leaders also uniting Monday, holding a press conference to discuss ways everyone can come together to encourage change.

“We need to come together and I know there are a lot of things that we can improve upon as a city, as a criminal justice system, but as we’re working towards improving those, we need to come together to make sure this doesn’t continue in our city, we’ve got to stop the violence,” South Ben Mayor James Mueller said.

Over the weekend 4 people were shot, and officials said that in last 3 months, 47 people have been shot, and in 2020 alone, 98 people have been criminally shot in South Bend.

South Bend Police Chief Scott Ruszkowski, urged togetherness in the city, who said that city leaders resolve things alone and that they could use your help.

“We cannot be everywhere at once all the time, every time, I wish we could but people in this community are around our community 24/7, 365 and they can be everywhere always at once,” Ruszkowski said. “This 7-year-old, when is that last one going to be the last one.”

Chrisyah’s father Christopher Stephens described his daughter as the sweetest girl that you would ever meet, and now mourns her life that was taken away too soon.

“I grew up in a town where kids fell off bicycles, smashed their fingers in doors, little brothers hitting on them that’s the only pain a child should feel,” Stephen’s said. “My daughter was at an innocent birthday party and that will be her last birthday party.”

Stephen’s urges that community involvement towards change doesn’t end here, but that it will continue on until things start looking up.

“This type of tragedy can’t just happen here, it just can’t. We just can’t allow people to come in our city and change our dynamics,” Stephen’s said. “I need the community to come together and help all of us solve this situation of gun violence it has to stop, it just has to stop.”

There is a GoFundMe account to help raise money towards funeral costs.

Anybody with any information on this shooting is asked to call the St. Joesph Metro Homicide Unit or Michiana Crime Stoppers.

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