In Focus: Church Reaching Out To Sherman Hills To Be Community Partner In Wilkes-Barre

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Is there hope for Sherman Hills?

The bigger question — Is there hope for the City of Wilkes-Barre?

The Restored Church on North Franklin Street will do its part to try to revive the city’s morale and its pride, and eliminate its fear.

The church will hold an event — “I Love My City” — on Saturday, April 25 in the Sherman Hills apartment complex parking lot. All residents of the city are welcome with their children. The church hopes the event will serve as a catalyst for similar events to be held.

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/152853433/

Deadly 2013 Lands Wilkes-Barre On ‘Murder Capital’ List

WILKES-BARRE, PA — The city’s bloody 2013 has placed it on a list of the Top 30 “Murder Capitals in America.”

The 13 homicides that took place in Wilkes-Barre made for the deadliest year in city history. The city was ranked 18th on the list.

NeighborhoodScout, an information website which compiles data on neighborhoods and cities throughout the country, used FBI numbers on homicides to create a list of cities with the highest murder rates. The report lists Wilkes-Barre as having 12 murders and does not include a case involving an accidental shooting, which the FBI classified as involuntary manslaughter.

The report says that until recently, major cities ranked among the dominating murder capitals, but this list is “populated mostly by middle-sized cities as well as smaller cities in close proximity to larger ones.”

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/deadly-2013-lands-w-b-on-murder-capital-list-1.1861214

With Crime On Their Minds, Concerned Residents Again Press Wilkes-Barre City Council On Rash Of Violence

WILKES-BARRE, PA — The topic won’t fizzle out.

Another city council meeting saw yet another gauntlet of pleas from concerned citizens about Wilkes-Barre’s recent rash of violence.

Council members spent most of Thursday’s hour-long meeting assuring residents that police and city administration were doing everything within their power to squash a three-week-long crime wave that produced six shootings, two deaths and six other injuries.

Council Chairman Mike Merritt conceded things will get worse before they get better.

Read more:

http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/152836901/Residents-press-council-about-crime

Former Police Chief Tony George Urges Mayor Thomas Leighton To Address Wilkes-Barre’s Current State Of “Violence And Lawlessness”

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Citing a “crisis of lawlessness,” former Police Chief Tony George on Monday pressed Mayor Thomas Leighton to restore law and order to the city of Wilkes-Barre in the wake of one of its most vicious weekends to date.

George, a city councilman and Democratic candidate for Wilkes-Barre mayor, urged Leighton in a press release to address the state of public safety by implementing citywide saturation patrols with an emphasis in “the most troubled neighborhoods,” including South Wilkes-Barre, North End and the Heights.

Over six days, two people have been killed and five others seriously injured in five separate shootings.

Show of force

During a press conference at police headquarters Monday afternoon, Leighton said patrols have been ongoing since 2013 and will continue as long as there is violent crime in Wilkes-Barre.

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/152763481/

Violence Continues With Another Shooting In Wilkes-Barre

WILKES-BARRE, PA — City police said a man was found with a gunshot wound in the area of 247 S. Welles St. just before 1:30 a.m. Monday.

Police did not say where the man, whose name was not released, suffered the gunshot wound. The victim was transported to a local hospital for treatment, police said.

No further information was released.

The victim is the seventh person to be shot in the city within five days. Two of those shootings turned fatal.

Read more:

http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/152759001/

Man Found shot To Death In Wilkes-Barre Residence

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Three shootings. Three days. Two dead.

After more than six months without a gunfire-related homicide in Wilkes-Barre, city police investigated three separate shootings this week — two of them hours apart on Friday morning.

Meanwhile, a vigil in support of non-violence is planned for Public Square tonight.

The latest investigation concerns the shooting death of Peter Bielecki Jr., 49, at his home at 70 Carey Ave.

Read more:

http://citizensvoice.com/news/man-found-shot-to-death-in-w-b-residence-1.1858235

Special Project: Is Pottstown Becoming More Dangerous?

Editor’s note:  Nice job, Evan.  Make sure you read the whole article because this is a good news, bad news piece.  Crime is still a problem in Pottstown.

POTTSTOWN, PA – Crime is not up in Pottstown, at least not according to the numbers.

Crime in the borough last year was, in nearly all categories, below the borough’s 10-year average, according to a Mercury analysis of crime statistics provided by the Pottstown Police Department.

The numbers of serious crimes like murder, rape and arson have remained relatively flat since 2005, and in addition, the statistics show that 2014 saw 13 percent fewer major crimes and a decrease of more than 16 percent in all reportable crimes.

Pottstown has not had more than two murders per year since 2007.

Read more:

http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20150308/special-project-is-pottstown-becoming-more-dangerous

DA: Ex-Wife, Her Family Members Killed By Military Veteran And Suspect Bradley William Stone In Montco Murder Spree

Authorities are still searching for the gunman who left six people dead in three Montgomery County shootings this morning, but a SWAT team has stormed a Pennsburg home in search of the suspect.

The Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office said police are looking for 35-year-old Bradley William Stone, of Pennsburg, in the killings. Three others were seriously wounded, officials said.

All of the victims have a “familial relationship” to Stone, prosecutors said. They were identified at a 6 p.m. press conference as Stone’s ex-wife, her sister and her sister’s husband, the sister’s teenage daughter, Stone’s former mother-in-law and a grandmother. A teenage son of the ex-wife’s sister was injured in the mayhem that occurred at two separate homes in two towns early this morning.

Montgomery County Court records show Stone had been entangled in divorce proceedings with his wife, Nicole A. Stone, since early 2009. The divorce was finalized in December 2012. Less than two weeks ago, he filed an emergency motion for custody.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/Police_SWAT_team_responding_to_Lansdale_shooting.html#4EeDx5kfdmipQzgc.99

All Hell Breaks Loose In Pottstown Over The Weekend….Again

Pottstown Borough Hall

Pottstown Borough Hall

Apparently, the inmates are running the asylum in good old Pottstown.  Several shootings, one fatal stabbing and a gas leak happened over the weekend. Sounds like your tax dollars are hard at work. Apparently, council is adding $6 million to the budget bringing it to $44 million.  Frankly, that should include a dozen more police officers and somebody should be reaching out to county and state officials for help.  This mess needs cleaned up once and for all.  It’s the same crap, in the same part(s) of town, over and over again.  We all know it’s drug related, gang related or a turf war etc…  Hey, Ma, “Pass the Section 8 housing please.  I want a heapin’ helpin’ so I can smother it in drugs.”  Happy Thanksgiving, Pottstown style.  Who needs mashed potatoes and gravy ;).  We sure know who the turkey is!

If you check out the Mercury, you can read all about it: http://www.pottsmerc.com/ or https://www.facebook.com/pottstown.mercury.

I can tell you people are scared.  They are afraid to take out their trash at night, drive through town at night etc…  The comments on Facebook by residents are upsetting to read.  You can feel the anger, fear, frustration and almost panic in their comments.  Some think it’s hopeless.

So I say to you, pack the council chambers for meetings and express your outrage to the people who hold the purse strings and can actually do something about it.  Pressure them to clean up Pottstown. They will cave in and do something if enough people complain.  But if the same 20 people show up at meetings every month they pass all this off as a few malcontents and naysayers causing problems. They are more interested in speed traps and tourism than public safety.

There is a bigger problem here than the leadership is willing to admit.  The “keep a lid on the powder keg” strategy has been an #epicfail and proactive policing needs to happen.  Stop putting lipstick on a pig and start throwing money at a huge public safety issue!  People are dying, isn’t that enough motivation?????

2 Dead, 1 Injured In Early-Morning Shootings In Sheraden

Locator map with the Sheraden neighborhood in ...

Locator map with the Sheraden neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania highlighted. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Police are investigating if the same shootout early Monday in Sheraden is responsible for leaving two men dead and a third critically injured, Pittsburgh police said.

Police found a body face down in between two houses in the 2700 block of Zephyr Avenue shortly after 8 a.m. The discovery came hours after a teenager was killed in a shooting incident a block away on Glen Mawr Avenue.

Shortly after the 12:20 a.m. shooting, a 24-year-old male walked into Allegheny General Hospital, North Side, with gunshot wounds and is in critical condition, police said.

Police believe the fatalities and the injury are likely related but are conducting more interviews before saying all three are linked, said Lt. Daniel Herrmann.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/7173051-74/release-shot-condition#ixzz3JLWwYgVt
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Killings, Shootings, Crashes Mark Violent Weekend In Philadelphia Area

The weekend in the Philadelphia region was marked by a series of violent incidents, including shootings and car crashes that have left at least eight people dead since Friday night.

The deaths include two fatal shootings in Camden and three in Philadelphia, as well as two deadly traffic accidents in South Jersey and one in Bensalem.

Other violent incidents also added to the weekend mayhem, including the shooting of a Temple University student, two double shootings and a robber who threatened to give his victim AIDS.

In Camden, authorities are investigating two deadly shootings that occurred hours apart Sunday morning.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/Killings_shootings_crashes_mark_violent_weekend_in_Philadelphia_area.html#0hUiZaOfGhfvm0Iv.99

Wilkes-Barre’s Sherman Hills Complex Now Prefers Locals

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WILKES-BARRE, PA — The welcome mat is still out for out-of-state residents at Sherman Hills, but under a program instituted by the new owner, locals are given preference to move into the federally-subsidized apartment complex.

The preference also applies if a member of the household waiting to get one of the 344-units has a job.

John VanMetre, director of property management for The Aspen Companies, an affiliate of Teaneck, New Jersey-based Treetop Development, owner of the complex, explained the change in light of a recent report that Sherman Hills had advertised for tenants in the New York City area.

VanMetre said that with the change in ownership, any ads are done locally.

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/news/50555847/Sherman-Hills-puts-focus-on-locals

Fear Grows Along With Body Count In Week Of Violence On Pittsburgh Streets

Locator map with the Glen Hazel neighborhood i...

Locator map with the Glen Hazel neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania highlighted. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gunmen targeted three victims in two apparently unrelated incidents Monday after a “pretty violent” week around the city that left some residents fearing for their lives.

A Pittsburgh sanitation worker was shot to death in his car Monday morning as he prepared to begin his route. Less than five hours later, two masked gunmen chased two victims on the streets of Glen Hazel in full view of neighbors, killing one and leaving the other in critical condition. A Chicago man was shot in the face and killed Saturday night in Beltzhoover. Arlington Heights was the scene of two daylight shootings Saturday and Sunday that wounded four.

Police are treating the incidents as unrelated, said Public Safety spokeswoman Sonya Toler.

“Right now, there’s no reason to believe they’re connected,” Toler said. She described the past week as “pretty violent” and said the people involved in most of the shootings participated in “undesirable activities.”

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/6956058-74/pittsburgh-hodges-police#ixzz3GA1DJZje
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Demands To ‘Stop the Violence’ Dominate Wilkes-Barre City Council Meeting

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Desperate for answers in the shooting death of one son, Yvonne George pleaded to be heard in order to save her other child.

Her brief statement capped the raucous and at times unruly city council meeting Thursday night filled with other members of the black community fed up with violence in the city and demanding something be done to end it.

A photo of her son David George was on the collage of black-and-white photos above the words “Stop The Violence” on posters held up in the audience. The 24-year-old man was shot and killed July 18, 2013, on South Welles Street, the seventh of the city’s 13 homicide victims that year.

“I feel that the Wilkes-Barre police every time something happens with a black person down here, the first thing they say is is it’s drug related and it’s gang related,” the deceased man’s mother said. “My son was not in no gang.”

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/news/50464272/

Council Members: Sherman Hills Owners Have No Plans To Increase Security

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The company managing the Sherman Hills apartment complex has no plans now to put up a guard house or around-the-clock armed security, said city council members this week.

Council members Bill Barrett and George Brown met in July with John VanMetre, director of property management at The Aspen Companies, a sister company of Treetop Development, the facility’s owners. Barrett and Brown are members of a group organized by Congressman Matt Cartwright, D-Moosic, looking at living conditions at the apartments.

“We have recommendations, not just cameras and fencing. I think we do need a guard system and to have people there who are monitors. I feel that’s something that’s necessary,” Brown said.

“The bottom line is I feel there’s a need to more closely monitor who’s there,” Barrett said. “There are problems still occurring, still continuing. I think they need to seriously consider having an armed security presence there to make it a safer place. That should be the objective, to make a safe living place for residents of the development. The only way you can do that is to make sure people who aren’t supposed to be there are not there.”

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/council-members-sherman-hills-owners-have-no-plans-to-increase-security-1.1732933

Pittsburgh Police To Step Up Walking Patrols To Help Combat Wave Of Violence

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pittsburgh police will step up patrols in the city’s eastern neighborhoods to combat an uptick in homicides, many of which appear to be drug-related, officials said on Monday.

Homicide detectives were closing in on a suspect in one of several recent shootings in a North Side public housing complex, officials said.

Police Lt. Daniel Herrmann said police know “key actors” in a shooting on Wednesday that killed one man and injured another in the Northview Heights housing complex.

“We need more information to pull people off the street,” Herrmann said. “We know some of the key actors, but we don’t have enough to get a warrant yet.”

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/6556787-74/police-homicides-mcdonald#ixzz39X5C8vda
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Wilkes-Barre Police Chief: Sherman Hills Cameras Not Working

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Surveillance cameras in Sherman Hills did not record Tuesday’s shooting at the troubled apartment complex when two men were seriously injured, city police Chief Gerard Dessoye said Thursday.

Dessoye said the camera system, he believed, was “not fixed” as pledged by the complex’s former owner, Sherman Hills Realty Inc.

“(Cameras) couldn’t provide any details about the shooting,” Dessoye said, noting he has not seen any security enhancements at the apartment complex besides the installation of a chain link fence.

U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Moosic, stated in a news release that Treetop Development, which purchased the apartment complex from Sherman Hills Realty earlier this year, “repaired all cameras.”

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/1536916/Dessoye:-Few-security-improvements-at-Sherman-Hills

The Citizens Action Committee For Pottstown Seeks To Topple Toroney – Usher In New Era Of Safety And Prosperity

The most common type of gun confiscated by pol...

The most common type of gun confiscated by police and traced by the ATF are .38 special revolvers, such as this Smith and Wesson Model 60 .38 Special revolver with a 3-inch barrel. LaPierre, Wayne (1994). Guns, Crime, and Freedom . Regnery Publishing. p. 58. ISBN 0895264773. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

POTTSTOWN, PA – In response to increased and ongoing violent crime in 2014 (more than 5 gun related crimes since May 18th), THE RESIDENTS OF POTTSTOWN REQUEST THAT COUNCIL PRESIDENT, STEVE TORONEY, STEP DOWN FROM OFFICE.

Statistics bear out the increased crime in our community but the real story lies in the individual experiences of loss and hardship.  There is a vanishing sense of well-being and safety as homeowners lose their homes and all that they have worked for.  Those who remain have lost all confidence in local government.

Montgomery County continues to warehouse their social services population in our community, yet they provide little relief from the results of their actions.   A promise made, to this community to address the “quality of life” issues in Pottstown, by Montgomery County District Attorney Risa V. Ferman has not come to fruition.  Local officials have not held the county responsible nor even asked for answers as to why they continue to overwhelm this community with their disenfranchised population.

Our neighborhoods are not safe.  They are in dangerous shambles, riddled with blight, gang members and others who possess weapons, drugs and display anti-social behaviors.  Yet, Montgomery County continues to fund housing programs that enable and pay negligent income property investors to house people that the county declines to care for.  These investors do not conduct background checks, they fail to register their properties or maintain them, they do not pay taxes nor do they monitor their properties once occupied.  This leaves borough residents exposed and vulnerable.

Taxpaying homeowners/residents are often accused of doing too little to support law enforcement.  In reality we’ve done too little to hold our local officials accountable for the fearful, depleted conditions we find in our neighborhoods.  We have not made them responsible for their failure to advocate for us, to interact and communicate with us, or to include us in seeking solutions.  Monday night we will proclaim the tide is turning.  From this point forward we will hold our elected and paid officials accountable for our diminishing quality of life.

We ask our elected officials to take a hands-on approach in seeking solutions by working with the paid management that they selected and by holding them accountable for their performance and their interactions with the community. In addition, we ask our elected officials to encourage innovation and measure progress on issues that contribute to crime in Pottstown.

We ask our elected officials to rid local government of underperforming public servants and to reign in management salaries and expenditures including new cars, iPads, extended paid vacations and other luxuries that we can ill afford.

We ask our elected officials to acknowledge the reality that many residents in our borough are hardworking people who are trying to raise their families and be good citizens.  Yet, they despair as they watch their investments in this community continue to spiral downward year after year.

Despite the viable options put in place to seek and hire qualified, experienced management from outside the borough, President Toroney’s public conviction was that the right choice for Pottstown was to promote the former Police Chief to Borough Manager and promote the former Police Captain to Police Chief.  We were not fooled.  Today, we most assuredly know that Pottstown is in further decline since those decisions were made.

Today, we ask Steve Toroney to step down as Council President and remove himself from Pottstown Borough Council so that his seat is open to capable, fresh and motivated leadership.  We MUST begin to turn the decline around before we find ourselves facing untenable conditions like those of Camden, N.J. and Detroit.

Citizens Action Committee for Pottstown

Email:  cacptown@gmx.com

Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/SavePottstown

The Citizens Action Committee for Pottstown is organizing a peaceful gathering of residents prior to Monday night’s Pottstown Borough Council Meeting (to request the resignation of Pottstown Borough Council President, Steve Toroney).  Borough residents are encouraged to come and take a stand to save Pottstown by participating in the gathering before the meeting and/or by attending the meeting and exercising their right as a Pottstonian to address the council during the allotted time for public comments.  This is your opportunity to stand together and make your voice heard.  

Date:                   Monday, June 9, 2014

Time:                   6:15 pm – The gathering in front of Pottstown Borough Hall

                            7:00 pm – Pottstown Borough Council Meeting begins

                            Council Meeting Room on the 3rd Floor.

Where:               Pottstown Borough Hall – 100 E. High Street, Pottstown, PA 19464

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Gun Violence Escalating In Pottstown, Again…

Warm weather does tend to bring out the criminal element in Pottstown.  Since May 18th there have been a number of incidents of gun violence reported by the Pottstown Mercury and WFMZ-TV.

Here is a recap of what’s been going on:

Armed robbery at the Gulf Station on High Street on May 18th: http://m.wfmz.com/pottstown-armed-robber-on-the-loose/26046054

Student arrested at Pottstown High School, allegedly robs another student at gunpoint on May 28th: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140528/updated-student-arrested-at-pottstown-high-school

Shooting near Brian’s Cafe (scene of a murder last year) on May 31st:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140531/updated-late-night-pottstown-shooting-sends-man-to-hospital

Armed robbery at Wells Fargo Bank on High Street (East End) on May 31st: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140531/updated-high-street-bank-robbed-fbi-seeks-armed-suspect

Police investigating gunshots near Wilson and Spruce Streets on June 2nd: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140602/pottstown-police-investigating-gunshots-near-wilson-and-spruce-streets

Police are investigating a shooting in Pottstown on Chestnut Street on June 3rd: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140603/updated-man-injured-after-shooting-in-pottstown-video

UPDATE: Police are investigating a homicide on Jefferson Avenue in Pottstown on June 5th: https://www.facebook.com/CrimeInPottstown and also the Pottstown Mercuryhttp://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140606/man-found-dead-in-car-in-pottstown

I think the examples above should be some kind of RED FLAG that there is a problem with violent crime in the borough.  And frankly, these are just the big incidents that I could find quickly to illustrate this problem.  A town of 22,480 (2012) should not have this much crime.

People are afraid.  People should expect more for their extremely HIGH TAXES.  If the Pottstown Police Department is overwhelmed then by all means call Harrisburg and ask for some help.  HINT:  Kathleen Kane’s Office for starters.  There is nothing wrong with asking for assistance.  Be proactive instead of reactive.  Maybe “keeping a lid on the powder keg” needs to be replaced with a better strategy?????

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