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"We Are Going to Take Our Neighborhood Back"

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ROCKY MOUNT — Under gray skies, the town of Rocky Mountremembered a slain four-year-old girl on Monday. They also vowed to stoptheviolence in their neighboorhoods.

Brittany Johnson was killed Saturday night as she slept in her room.Police say that seven men fired at least nine rounds into the Rex Streethome. One of the stray bullets hit Brittany. She died a short timelater.

Five men are behind bars, all charged with first degree murder. Three ofthe suspects are brothers. Police say that they may make morearrests in the case.

There were five other children in the house when Brittany was killed. Rocky Mount Police Lieutenant Wayne Sears says that this tragedy couldhave been much worse.

Police tell WRAL-TV5 News that Brittany's mother may not know that herchild is dead. The woman is a fugitive from the law, and police want herin connection with a number of crimes, including a hit-and-run case.Neighbors say that they have not seen the woman in months, and theyhave no idea where she is.

Brittany's murder is the latest in a long line of killings on Rex Street.Another four-year-old was killed by gunfire just down thestreet from Brittany's house a few weeks ago.

However, statistics show that crime is way down in that part of town.Federal funding in 1995 allowed police to beef up patrols in thecommunity. The extra police, coupled with "Eagle Watch," an anti-crime programcreated by residents, is attributed with cutting the neighborhood's murderrate in half after only two years.

Residents like DorisThorne say that they appreciate the police department'shelp, but she realizes that the community must make it's own contributionto fighting crime. She wants to take her neighborhood back.

Thorne and others hope that they can reclaim their streets -- so RockyMount will never again see an innocent child struck down in their sleep.

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