‘I fear for them’: Families in 19th Ward scared for loved ones as violence increases

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The City of Rochester has seen more than 30 homicides so far this year and certain communities have been hit harder by the violence. 

Just in the Month of June, Genesee Street in the 19th Ward Neighborhood has had its fair share of crime. 

Families in the area tell News 8 the uptick in violence is concerning. 

“I never thought in my wildest dreams I would have to worry about my kids going out and have to worry if they are going to return home,” said Kristie Ruff, a mother in the 19th Ward area. 

Ruff grew up in the 19th Ward community, near where Monday’s stabbing occurred. Ruff says the crime they have seen recently is worrisome. 

“I have young men of my own and they are 20 and 22, and when they go out, I fear for them. Even though they are not of the violence, they don’t do the stuff out there, I fear for them,” Ruff said. “The other night I walked my 22-year-old outside just to get in his car because I don’t want no one to mistake him for someone else and just shoot him.”

A lot of the violence in Rochester lately has involved young adults, something that is concerning for a parent like Ruff who has two boys in their 20s. 

“I don’t want to have them bury them, I want them to bury me,” Ruff said. “I can’t sleep at night when they go out and they don’t come in so my phone is…I’m always texting, ‘Where you at? What time you getting home? Make sure you park somewhere close to the house, when you walk in the door, tap me or something like that, let me know you’re home.’ So that is my fear every day of their life, that they are going to go out here one day and not return home.” 

Ruff lives with her mother, Dorothy Henry. Henry has lived in the neighborhood for nearly 30 years and raised her kids there. She says things have changed and the violence has gotten worse. 

“I don’t hardly let my grandkids off this porch. I don’t. If they go right there in front of the house, I watch them. I have them come right back up,” said Dorothy Henry, who is a pastor at Judah Temple House of Praise

Henry says the crime is especially concerning when it involves kids. 

“Now, things are so bad and the children are just raising themselves because we have so many young parents and so many parents who are not in homes and the streets are raising the kids,” Henry said. 

Donald Gamble also lives near Genesee Street. He’s been there for roughly 30 years and says things are different now than they were back then. 

“There’s a big difference. Before it was nice, you could walk down the street, not worry, go where you want around here, more of the neighbors knew each other, more friendly, now everybody keeps their kids very close to them and it’s not the same,” Gamble said. 

Karen Emerson, the President of the 19th Ward Community Association, says she has heard from businesses and families who are worried about the crime. 

“They go, what am I going to do, it’s frightening for everyone. And I think the randomness of the violence is concerning for people. The recent murders on Genesee Street all seem to be somewhat targeted, but that does not account for all of the randomness that also happens,” Emerson said. 

Emerson is calling on community members to help stop the violence. 

“If you’re not a part of the solution, you are part of the problem. So let’s get activated,” Emerson said. ”Get involved. Find out who your neighbors are. Just call the association, tell them you want to work with us.”

The Rochester Police Department currently has 12 homicide investigators, but the Rochester Police Locust Club says one of those investigators retires Friday.

Police are still looking for suspects in the recent homicides and stabbing on Genesee Street. If you have any information, call 9-1-1.

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