Reading residents say city is becoming a 'war zone', don't feel safe

"Back in the days it wasn't about all these guns. "

Residents react to recent killing

READING, Pa. - A war zone is how some describe the city of Reading.

"It has become a war zone," said John Damms, visiting the city from Shoemakersville. "I don't feel safe."

"People want to kill for no reason," said Marisa Mercado from Reading. "It's ridiculous."

These complaints come just as the Reading Police Department is trying to solve the city's most recent homicide.

Sunday night, Donnie Edwards III, 22, from Roanoke, Virginia, was shot and killed in the 200 block of N. 4th Street in Reading, police said.

Edwards was running for cover when he was hit by a bullet fired from across the street, police said.

"It's sad what's going on," said Christopher Fuentes from Reading. "Back in the days it wasn't about all these guns. You could just fight with your fists, now, it's pitiful."

Reading's most recent killing appears to be part of an increase in homicides across the country.

Chicago has already had 186 homicides compared to 163 this time last year.

Philadelphia has registered 240 homicides compared to 174 this time last year.

In the city of Reading, there were 13 homicides for the entire year of 2011, but halfway through this year the city has already reached 12 homicides.

Officials say the increase in violence, combined with a decrease in manpower on the police force, is forcing officers to do more with less.

"The police officers are doing an outstanding job, coming in working overtime, working extra shifts, trying to stem any additional violence," said Capt. Damond Kloc, Reading Police Department.

Meanwhile, residents in Reading say they are determined to defeat the violence.

"We just got to find the source," said Edwin Irizarry from Reading. "Once we find the source of the problem we can break it down little by little."

Anyone with information about the homicide of Donnie Edwards III, can call Crime Alert Berks County, which is offering a cash reward of up to $10,000. The toll-free number to call is 877-373-9913.

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