By Jesse Marx
By Chris Parker
By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
"Has it stopped crime completely? No," says Reed. "Has it reduced it? Maybe. But they still come back and commit crimes."
MARLENE POUKKA'S house is still scarred by the bullet lodged just centimeters over the second-story window of her son's bedroom.
Poukka was asleep when it happened last winter. She awoke to the unmistakable sound of gunfire in her front yard. Before she could even get up to investigate, her son barged into her room.
"Mom!" he screamed. "Somebody just shot at the house!"
She found out the next morning that someone living at her next-door neighbor's house owed money to a drug dealer. When the money didn't come on time, the dealer wanted to send a message. Poukka's house had just been collateral damage.
"We have a pretty good idea who it is," she says, divulging only that the shooters were gang members. "I really don't want to say anything."
Today, two pit bulls stand sentry in her yard for security. Though she's lived there for eight years, she feels uncomfortable walking beyond her own driveway.
"I don't feel safe at all," she says.
Poukka's block doesn't have streetlights, and she's witnessed the gangs that roam her neighborhood under the cover of darkness.
"I've seen groups of teenagers walking down the road with clubs," she says. "I mean, what are they doing outside at that time in the morning?"
More than her own safety, she worries about her seven-year-old grandson, Jamie, whom she's helping to raise. Poukka's endured the fear for only a few years, but Jamie has never known any other life.
"He's just a little one," Poukka says. "When kids grow up with violence and they see it, they tend to do the same thing."