MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - After a violent weekend in Memphis that left five people dead, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland released a statement addressed to those responsible.
Strickland called the criminals "cowards" who use weapons instead of words to solve conflict.
"My message to any of you who illegally carry or use guns: You are the problem in Memphis," Strickland wrote. "You are hurting our efforts to bring jobs and opportunity to our community. But you will not succeed in tearing us down."
Strickland said the city is implementing a multiple-prong approach to reduce crime, including stronger policing and more youth programming.
Strickland said he's reached out to the Feds to help solve Memphis's gang problem.
That word Monday comes on the heels of a violent weekend in Memphis where 5 people were shot and killed, two of those homicides were 15 year old boys.
Memphis Police Department Director Mike Rallings also had strong words for about the homicides in the Bluff City.
"I will continue to say, guns in the wrong hands will only lead to someone getting killed or injured. We cannot continue traveling down this same path. During this same time last year we were handling 16 homicides. Today, we are yet again at 16 homicides for 2017. We must pull together as a community and stop these senseless killings," said Director Rallings. "Gangs, guns and drugs are the root cause of these senseless killings. It must stop! Stop getting involved with gangs and associating yourself with those who participate in criminal behavior. If you know someone is planning to commit a crime, report it. Stop condoning criminals that are destroying our community. Don't let your home or neighborhood be a safe haven for those who choose to be on the wrong side of the law."
Sixteen people have been killed in Memphis in the first three weeks of 2017.
"We will find those responsible for these murders. We will not stop until each and every one of these suspects are in custody. Our Homicide Investigators, members from Organized Crime, and our Multi-Agency Gang Unit will not rest until these criminals are behind bars," Strickland said.