As gun crimes increase, even city's playgrounds don't offer safe - KMOV.com

As gun crimes increase, even city's playgrounds don't offer safe haven for kids

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Residents of Pine Lawn say Pelton Jackson Municipal Park is often locked and not open to the public. Residents of Pine Lawn say Pelton Jackson Municipal Park is often locked and not open to the public.
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) - On Tuesday afternoon, a woman was killed and three others were injured at a park in North St. Louis in what appears to be a growing trend of gun violence in area parks and playgrounds.

Places that are meant to provide a safe place for children to play and spend time outside have been the scenes of multiple shooting in the St. Louis area over the past three months.

Just last week, a 6-year-old girl and her father were both shot by suspects in a passing vehicle while playing at Lucier Park near Hamilton Elementary School in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood.

"Certainly we believe the child was an innocent bystander, unknown about the persons in her general vicinity," said Captain John Hayden of the St. Louis Police Department.

In March, a 6-year-old boy was killed by gunfire when bullets struck his family's van as they left O'Fallon Park in north St. Louis. The other children and an adult inside of the van were also shot.

Days later, a shootout occurred at a playground next to Tower Grove Park, leading investigators to scour the ground by a swingset and slide for shell casings.

At the end of March, a man was shot in the parking lot of Pershing Elementary School in University City, not far from the playground.

Residents near the school were surprised and worried that a child could have been injured.

"Anybody could have gotten hurt. It could have been my little brother or my little sister that got hurt," said Tayia Taylor, who lives near the school.

In some areas, crime has led to the temporary closure of parks to avoid problems.

In Pine Lawn, residents told News 4 Pelton Jackson Municipal Park is locked more often than not, after a history of criminal acts in the park.

"We want the citizens and residents of Pine Lawn to enjoy their park," said Pine Lawn Spokesman Lou Thimes, who added that the city is working to balance safety with public access to the park.

Anyone with information on Tuesday's shooting is asked to contact CrimeStoppers.
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