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'One is too many;' Mothers march for young lives lost to gun violence; call for action

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ST. LOUIS ( -- Hundreds of people marched through north St. Louis City on Saturday to bring attention to gun violence and all the blood being shed in St. Louis streets. 

Through August this year, St. Louis City witnessed 136 homicides compared to 117 the same time last year; a 16 percent increase, according to police data obtained by News 4.

There were 2,671 aggravated assaults with firearms in the city from January 1 through August 31 this year, an average of seven shootings per day. 

St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden said his department is adding six new homicide detectives following the increase in gun violence. 

“We’re 15 homicides above this time last year but we’re right even with 2017 so what you’re really looking at is a three-year trend that St. Louis hasn’t been able to get out of this conversation of violent crime,” Hayden said. “It didn't just start this year we had some successes last year but we’re really fighting a culture.”

'We have got to stop fighting each other;' St. Louis residents fed up with rising violence

In Fairground Park, the crowd nodded and clapped when a speaker said "One is too many. Our children deserve to live a full life." 

Traci Blackmon, a pastor at United Church of Christ in Florissant, said she joined the march because she's a mother herself and is concerned about the killings of young people in St. Louis.

"We're here today to remind the community that ... they're not alone," Blackmon said. "That our children matter." 

The Mother's March To End Gun Violence comes after 17 children under the age of 16 have died of gunshot wounds around the St. Louis area since May. 

Blackmon said there's hopelessness in St. Louis, a lack of equitable resources and people in the streets have no direction.

"What we think we need is love," Blackmon said. "What we think we need is for people to know that they’re not alone and we won’t stand for certain behavior and that’s why we’re here."

CrimeStoppers announced a $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the cases of slain children, many of which remain unsolved. The reward was announced after 8-year-old Jurnee Thompson was shot and killed near a high school. 

"Conventional policing tactics are not enough," St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson said. "Who does this? Who shoots in the direction of a 3-year-old? Who's shooting in the direction of a 7-year-old or an 8-year-old or a 10-year-old? Please help the police solve these crimes."

Copyright 2019 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved

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