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Community members want more security after nine-year-old girl was shot in the neck

Published: Nov. 14, 2021 at 10:30 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 14, 2021 at 10:44 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - A nine-year-old girl is still fighting in the hospital after being shot in the neck earlier this week. She was caught in the crossfire of two men shooting at the Morrell Todd public housing units in Birmingham.

The Housing Authority of Birmingham recently increased police patrols and installed more than 30 cameras on the property where Ja’liyah Baker was shot earlier this week, but members of the community said they need more security, so this doesn’t happen to another child.

“I want these children to feel safe,” Morrell Todd Homes Community President Eldridge Knighton said. “I had to call my daughter and let her know that her cousin’s child had been shot, and that did something to me.”

Knighton said with 456 units on the property, about 300 children call it home.

“I have seen these children sit out here and play and have a good time and not have to worry about nobody shooting,” he said. “Then, I have seen the children be scared. They hear gunshots, so yeah they are scared.”

There are more than 30 cameras on the property and Birmingham police said they helped in making an arrest in Baker’s case, but Knighton said he wants to see even more security.

“If I have to get the police, whoever I have to get to come in here and make sure to protect our children, then that is what I’m going to do.”

Knighton is hosting a town hall for community members to come up with ideas to make the homes safer for everyone. He said his suggestion is having resident and guest ID cards and stickers for their cars. Housing authority officials said many of the crime incidents on the properties are from non-residents.

“I made a proposal that we do a guest ID, to where those guests would have to pay for a year pass and that money would go towards housing,” Knighton said. “If that person violates anything that goes on in housing authority, their pass would be taken from them and they would be put on trespass.”

Knighton said this would help police know who is and is not a resident. Knighton said the resident council hosts events like movie nights for the resident kids, but not as many as he would like show up. He thinks improving security will help bring the community closer and help keep everyone safe.

“I want the residents to know that their children, when the resident council is doing something and holding something for this community, I don’t want residents to be afraid and not let their children come. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for none of these children out here. I love them. They call me Mr. E.”

The town hall for the Morrell Todd residents is set to be Wednesday, November 17th, at 5:30 p.m. It will be held in the Community Center. The address to the Community Center is 4609 8th Ct. N. 35212.

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