SAPD: Park police officer to guard Benavides Park following deadly weekend shooting

‘We want it to be a safe haven for the children in our neighborhood. We want them to have nice, normal lives.’

SAN ANTONIO – Residents in a West Side neighborhood is getting some relief in their ongoing requests for help in stopping violence after a 16-year old was gunned down at Benavides Park Sunday.

Natalia Tovar, with St. Timothy COPS Metro, says the community has been working closely with the city for several years to turn Benavides Park into a family place. But with the recent violence, it feels like a setback.

“We want it to be a safe haven for the children in our neighborhood,” Tovar said. “We want them to have nice, normal lives.”

On Thursday, city leaders, including Police Chief William McManus, leaders of The San Antonio Housing Authority, and the City Manager attended a community meeting at St. Timothy Church.

The chief promised to have a concrete plan of action for the community in two weeks. But the first part of his plan is ensuring that a park patrol officer is stationed at the park for 20 hours of the day, starting now.

His plan will also include more visibility of officers after curfew and “more coverage in the area."

"We wanna provide the folks in the area who live here an enhanced level of safety when they are in their homes or out in the streets,” McManus said.

Family, friends mourn the loss of 16-year-old fatally shot at West Side park

His plan will also include the involvement of the San Antonio Archdiocese, where police will be more involved in getting their message to parishioners through churches, he explained.

SAHA, also present at the meeting, said they are working on a plan to enhance safety at the Cassiano Homes, which is next to Benavides Park.

Two years ago, 14-year old Angel Gebara was killed by a stray bullet in those apartments. The community said it’s time to stop the violence.

The chief is asking for the community to join their Citizens of Patrol Academy so they can learn to be the eyes and ears for officers.

A community walk is set for March 20th at 7 p.m. The chief and other community members promise to be a part of it.

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