Montgomery Co. leaders condemn violence, urge community vigilance for ‘Summer of Peace’

State's Attorney for Montgomery County, Maryland, John McCarthy calls for community collaboration to help prevent violence. (WTOP/Scott Gelman)

At the first of six “Summer of Peace” events in Montgomery County, Maryland, on Friday night, state’s attorney John McCarthy called for community collaboration to help prevent violence.

The goal of the events is to promote a community-based approach to reduce crime and violence. Friday’s event was held at White Oak Skate Park.

He pointed to a recent example, during which community assistance helped law enforcement make arrests in connection with weapons and drugs in Germantown.

Last summer, McCarthy said, law enforcement executed a search warrant and seized five guns, 83 fentanyl pills and $12,000 cash from a group of people that had been connected to other shootings in the community.

Eight men were arrested, and all have been convicted on weapons and drug-related charges, McCarthy said, adding that they’re all serving mandatory minimum sentences.

In cases involving young people, law enforcement is increasingly monitoring and spotting things on social media. In the Germantown case, he said, a social media video showed the suspects with drugs, guns and money.

“I’m concerned about violence everywhere in the community,” McCarthy said. “With younger members of our community, they seem to be better armed. And by that, I mean armed with handguns.”

In response to drug overdoses, Department of Health and Human Services director James Bridgers said the county is increasing the availability of Narcan in public spaces like libraries and police and fire departments.

“We know that many of the overdoses that have occurred over the last six or seven months had been principally in communities of color,” Bridgers said.

The county uses data, Bridgers said, to figure out where the “Summer for Peace” events will be held.

Patricia Prather, who works with young women in the community, said she focuses on teaching how to speak and effectively communicate, and work on beauty techniques after school when it’s in session.

She described the summer events as “extremely important, because there’s so much going on from the gun violence, the substance use, the overdoses, and so we even educate them on that as well.”

“The anxiety is real, the mental health [issues are] real,” Prather said.

Neighborhood resident Felicia Hawkins said there have been some recent robberies in the community, and said part of the issue is “too many teens having guns, access to guns and killing people. That’s one of the biggest things I have a problem with.”

Scott Gelman

Scott Gelman is a digital editor and writer for WTOP. A South Florida native, Scott graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019. During his time in College Park, he worked for The Diamondback, the school’s student newspaper.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up