BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — This month 15 people in Bakersfield have lost their lives due to gun violence, averaging nearly one homicide every other day.
Now the local group Thee Next Steps hopes by bringing community members out for a vigil, they can spread awareness and honor loved ones lost.
“Anybody can be a victim of gun violence,” said Mo Ali, Thee Next Steps event Organizer.
With the month of August coming to an end, the increase in crime in Kern County continues to surpass last year’s rates. Already, Kern County has seen more killings than this time last year. With last year’s homicides setting a new record for Kern, community members are looking to spread awareness.
“Encouraging the community to shift away from it’s not my problem or it didn’t happen to me. Just ensuring that this type of violence can come to an end and we can bring justice to those families in need,” said Ali.
Last year, Kern saw 89 homicides by the end of August. This year, so far there have been 96 killings. The most recent taking place Sunday morning when 61-year-old Alfred Lee Williams was found shot in 300 block of South Owens Street.
This month, at least three homicides have been linked to domestic violence. One of the issues Thee Next Steps hopes to shed light on during their candlelight vigil.
“The Alliance Against Family Violence will be here, there will be a resource table for that,” Ali said. “The booths that we have set up so different organizations that are open to work with them that specifically focus on gun prevention and gang violence.”
Thee Next Steps said Kern County District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer will be a guest speaker at this event. The vigil is taking place this event at 6:30 at the Liberty Bell and is open to the community.