A Phoenix neighborhood is taking safety into their own hands. The Peralta Lions Block Watch group is spreading the word in the Maryvale neighborhood as police search for a serial street shooter responsible for killing at least seven people.
It starts with a meeting at a neighbor’s door. The group, made up mostly of women, is going door-to-door to encourage neighbors to have each other’s backs when it comes to keeping crime out.
“I didn’t know that this is something that we can do you know. I thought it was [a] job [only] for police,” said Monica Baquera, a member of the Peralta Lions Block Watch.
The group started about a year ago because neighbors were fed up with crime. They named their group after the nearby Peralta Lions Elementary School because it’s the children in the neighborhood who they're trying to protect.
Now that Phoenix police are looking for the serial street shooter, the group is also alerting neighbors to be vigilant.
“It’s scary. I tell my wife when she gets home, ‘Let me know, so I can be outside waiting for you,’” Maryvale resident Raul Cordova said.
As the group walked the neighborhood Wednesday afternoon, a neighbor told them that her home was recently shot up. In this case, the woman reported the crime, but volunteers said neighbors are often afraid to call police.
"This is why we are here-- to let the people know that we need to speak. If we don’t speak, this is not going to stop," Baquera said.
After walking the streets, the group got in their van to patrol the area.
“We are looking for any suspicious activity," Baquera said.
The group reports what they see-- graffiti, abandoned homes, drugs, criminal activity-- and they're in constant communication with the Phoenix Police Department.
"Now, our members, they feel safer. They feel more comfortable to call the police,” said Maribel, a group member.
With their presence, the group is hoping to deter crime and let the community know that they have eyes on the street.
The group regularly patrols the neighborhood in their van on Friday nights. They have a meeting every first Wednesday of the month.