Following last week’s shooting in Johnstown, the number of homicides in Cambria County has now reached double digits for this year alone.
We reached out to law enforcement officials and local community members to see what’s being done to stop the violent trend.
Cambria County District Attorney Greg Neugebauer says the first step is strengthening community relations.
“I know lots of citizens are concerned. Particularly, when you look at people that have maybe lived in their home for 30 or 40 years, and their neighborhood has changed. Maybe where they once weren’t concerned about even locking their doors — their neighborhood has changed and they’re very concerned about what’s going on around them,”
Neugebauer says, this year alone, eight separate incidents in Johnstown left ten people dead.
Last year, he says there were six homicides in Johnstown including one homicide by vehicle.
There were also six killings in 2020, three of which were murder suicides, Neugebauer says.
So, how do we fix it?
“We’re putting lots of resources into that area. We’re continuing to work on our partnerships with the federal agencies and statewide agencies to try to put all the resources into that area that we can, to help not only on the homicide side of things and the violent crime side of things but also the drug side of things,”
Nationally from 2019 to 2020, the firearm homicide rate increased about 35%, according to the CDC.
The CDC also reports that the firearm homicide rate in 2020 was the highest recorded in over 25 years.
In an interview with 6 News last week, Superintendent Dr. Amy Arcurio with the Greater Johnstown School District told us about their school security.
She says, when keeping their students safe, there’s a need to focus on prevention rather than just reaction.
“We can’t have metal detectors if we don’t have people in place that I like to call “mental” detectors. Those are therapists, those are social workers, those are individuals that are really in tune with the needs of our students and help them navigate,”
Law enforcement officials and local community leaders agree that their partnerships with community members must get stronger.
“This is a great place to live. It’s a great area to live. It’s a great place to raise a family. We need to all work together to keep it that way,”
We reached out to several members of the Johnstown Police Department who said they were unavailable to comment today.
City of Johnstown Mayor Frank Janakovic also did not respond for comment.