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String of weekend shootings in Lexington again puts crime issue front and center

Josh James

A string of shootings over the weekend left nine injured in Lexington, again raising questions about whether the city is doing all it can to prevent violence.

It's becoming an all-too-familiar pattern — new incidents of violence take the spotlight, leading to renewed calls for a fresh look at programs used in other cities and pressure on city leaders to defend the current anti-violence strategies.

The latest string of shootings took place on Saturday, wounding a total of nine, at the 400 block of Oak Street, the 1100 block of Briarwood Circle, and near Wild Health Field, prompting the Lexington Legends to cancel a double header scheduled that night.

Advocates have repeatedly pushed the city to consider implementing a national program dubbed GVI, or Group Violence Intervention. But both Mayor Linda Gorton and Lexington Police Chief Lawrence Weathers have been skeptical. Weathers told WKYT last week the city has taken a close look at a number of programs.

"We look at them all and we look at them unbiased, and to be quite honest, we found that some of the things being said about the product really didn't live up to what it says it did," Weathers said.

But the incidents are ratcheting up rhetoric in the upcoming mayoral race — with challenger David Kloiber saying the mayor is "out of touch" and is pushing "ineffective policies."

Gorton responded, saying she's devoted more resources and attention to violence prevention and intervention than any mayor in the city's history but believing one particular program is the sole answer to the problem is "naive at best."

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.