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Former gang member works to stop deadly violence in Cleveland

Posted at 6:37 PM, Jun 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-21 18:40:36-04

It’s the payback cycle that keeps terrorizing Cleveland neighborhoods, and on the heels of the shooting death of a 9-year-old girl caught in the crossfire, its an even great threat now.

"People not even involved in the situation, they want to retaliate because it's a young child. However, two wrongs equal another wrong," former gang member Jeffrey Crosby said.

Crosby, a violence interrupter with the Cleveland Peacemakers Alliance, is desperately trying to stop the bloodshed we see too often on our city streets. 

"We don't want our kids to die," Crosby said. "We have to step up our efforts even more, boots on the ground, and bring the community together."

That includes reaching out to those in the community who are opening fire and leaving us all at risk.

"Heartless. When you don't have a heart, you're dead. When you're a felon, you're in prison. So, Heartless Felon to me means dead or in jail," Crosby said, referring to a Cleveland gang.

Crosby believes in providing much-needed life support for young men who have lost their ways.

"My job is to give them CPR. My job is to make sure their heart keeps pumping," Crosby said.

The violence interrupter uses a simple message to try and tackle this complex problem.

"When a person gets killed or a person gets incarcerated because of retaliating for someone killed, it effects not just you. It effects your family, your mother, your friends," Crosby said.

It's hopefully enough to convince the young men contributing to the violence to turn away from gangs and the terror they create for so many Clevelanders.

"They're fed up. They do not want to live around crime. They're sick and tired of it," Crosby said.

Crosby said he constantly hears the horror stories from people living in fear.

“Scared to come outside, sometimes they might get paranoid when they hear loud noises," Crosby said.

Crosby said he is frustrated by the violence and while it may seem hopeless at times, he believes this latest heartbreak, the death of an innocent 9-year-old girl, can be used to motivate the community to come up with long-lasting solutions.

"It hasn't gotten so bad that the people are completely heartless. We have to step up our work even more, because when one person gets killed, it's one too many, and it's really horrible, touches us when a nine-year old gets killed. It's a time during the despair we have to come together," Crosby said.

Crosby is occupying himself trying to tackle the flaring tempers that could lead to the next shooting. He said there are currently a lot of ongoing conflicts on the streets of Cleveland.