CLEVELAND — As Cleveland police investigate at least the fourth shooting involving a child in the last week, the co-founder of the non-profit group Peace In The Hood is calling for leadership to step up and coordinate efforts aimed at reducing the violence that's plagued the city this year.
"This is the madness," said activist Khalid Samad as he stood near the spot where police said a three-year-old was shot in the hand while riding a car with his mother and another woman around 9 p.m. Tuesday.
Samad said he hasn't seen violence like what's rocked Cleveland in decades. He called the attacks heartbreaking.
"Why would they look at a three-year-old as not somebody whose life is worth sustaining?" said Samad.
He called the mentality on the streets dangerous and believes teens need to realize that what's happening isn't like a video game.
"They think life is just like this, you shoot them in the head, turn the game back on [and] they'll come back. It doesn't work like that," said Samad.
He said the city needs leadership to step forward and organize a coalition of people and groups to address the problem.
He pointed to the success of the gang summit in Cleveland in the early 1990s as proof the idea can work.
"You've got a mosque down there, several churches around here, but how do they ever get together to do things?" Samad said. "The planning needs to be now or when spring comes around it's going to be worse."