A Huntsville mother has more than 50 plastic pumpkins sitting in her front yard in North Huntsville. The pumpkins were placed to remember the 53 people ranging from ages 3 to 25 who have been murdered in the area since 2014, including her own teenage son.
"These are my babies too now. That's what I tell their mothers. They should have been our children all along," said Donna Howell.
Howell said too many families have experienced the same loss her family has.
"It stays with you forever. The rest of your life. It's not just me devastated. The rest of the family and his friends. You imagine 53 families are going through that," she said.
Monday, Jay Town, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, explained the Huntsville Public Safety Task Force includes local law enforcement and federal agencies. It will be targeting the worst offenders.
"When I say worst offenders, I don't just mean repeat offenders. I mean people that might not have a record at all, but we absolutely know they are engaging in some of the worst types of criminal activity," he said.
Town said this task force is about bringing police efforts together to stop all violent crime, not just murders, from happening in neighborhoods.
"What we will find over the next several years is that there will be a decline in violent crime across the country, certainly in the northern district and especially here in Huntsville, and it's going to be because of our efforts not because we hoped and prayed," he added.
Town explained it's going to start with charging people with the most serious offense if his office is able to.
"They will face a federal charge and where if convicted a federal sentence where there is no sanctuary of parole, that is how you keep our most violent offenders off the streets and put them exactly where they belong, which is in a prison bed," Town said.
Town said the task force will have advanced federal intelligence resources that will be able to ramp up efforts to catch people doing illegal activity in the city and surrounding areas.
As for Howell, her son's killer has not been arrested, and she said she hopes the task force is able to help solve cold cases.
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