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Gary homicides approaching high not seen in several years

Crime scene investigators mark evidence Nov. 1 in the area of 13th Avenue and Wilson Street in Gary after two men were shot. Wanya Burnside, 21, of Gary, died two days later at a Chicago hospital from a gunshot wound to the head. Burnside was among 14 homicide victims in Gary in October and November.

On the eve of the new year Tuesday afternoon, the number of people senselessly slaughtered in Gary in 2019 stood at a stomach-turning 58.

It's a 45% increase from last year.

As we head into the new year, the entire Region should be disgusted.

But this waste of human life, including the recent slaying of 4-year-old Tory’on Dukes by a stray bullet as he lay in a bed in his home, should elicit far more from all of us than just anger, shock or disgust.

There are ways in which the entire Region can and should be responding.

Leadership within Gary is the first key.

At his Monday inauguration, incoming Mayor Jerome Prince couldn't have been more on point when he called upon all citizens of Gary to "say something" when they "see something" in the realm of crime and violence.

Too often, residents fail to report crimes, even some of the worst ones, to police, authorities in Gary say.

The people of Gary cannot let fear control when they report to authorities.

Violence, including this rash of senseless slayings, will no doubt continue into the new year without strong intervention from a concerned citizenry ready and willing to tip authorities to crime.

Prince realizes he is fighting an uphill battle as he assumes the reins of a troubled city, whose problems have been exacerbated in recent years by sub-par leadership on all levels, including the mayor's office.

It's one of the reasons Prince resoundingly defeated outgoing Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson in the May primary.

Prince must continue to encourage his entire city to work together in a fight against this epidemic of violence.

His choice of new Gary police chief, veteran federal agent and retired Army Col. Richard Ligon, is a solid first step.

But neither Prince, nor the city of Gary, can do it alone.

And they shouldn't have to.

We are one Region. The lives and livelihoods of all Northwest Indiana residents is affected by the fortunes of all other communities next to us.

All Lake County residents' tax dollars support the Lake County Sheriff's Department.

The sheriff's agency is key to helping Gary, a city of decimated tax base and resources, police its streets.

Thankfully, Sheriff Oscar Martinez remains steadfast in his pledge to continue helping investigate homicides, Gary streets and fight other serious crime in the Steel City.

Martinez and Prince also seem to be on the same page. That communication and partnership will be central to any turnaround in violent crime Gary can realize.

Ultimately, no one living in Northwest Indiana can afford to turn their backs on carnage or other social ills plaguing Gary.

We all must encourage our elected officials to provide whatever help we can spare — even if it's in the sharing of ideas, innovations or strategies that cost no resources.

We all must show compassion and care.

It's the only way to spark a real pathway forward.

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Members of The Times Editorial Board are Publisher Christopher T. White, Editor Marc Chase, Deputy Editor Kerry Erickson, Regional News Editor Sharon Ross, Assistant Deputy Editor Andrew Steele.