LYNCHBURG, Va (WFXR) — An increase in gun violence in the Hill City has sparked safety concerns among community members.

Lynchburg resident, Eleosiya Bodor, says the rise in gun violence impacts people’s day-to-day life.

“People become afraid to go out, go out at night, go out alone,” said Bodor.

Bodor has called Lynchburg home her whole life. She says as the city grows, the gun violence seems to grow too.

“It just seems like that’s kind of what happens when cities get bigger,” said Bodor.

She says she has a heavy heart seeing the violence rise in her community.

“The feeling of fear can be the most detrimental to a community because it keeps us from actually getting to know one another and banding together and forming that community that we all want,” said Bodor.

Lynchburg Police Chief, Ryan Zuidema, says they have been working with Virginia State Police on a violent crime response team since early December.

“That group is out proactively addressing things related to firearm offenses, including drug activity, gang activity, and things that center around those same types of offenses,” said Zuidema.

He’s encouraging people to be proactive, especially with young people.

“Unfortunately, we’re seeing a lot more involvement with youth, juveniles, and violent crime,” said Zuidema.

Chief Zuidema adds that the department is trying to educate gun owners on taking proper precautions when storing their weapons.

“We have far too many firearms that are stolen out of vehicles in our community. Folks that have firearms have a duty and a responsibility to store them safely,” said Zuidema.

He emphasizes that reducing gun violence is a community effort. People are asked to come forward if they have any information on crime in their community.

“Violent crime is not just a police department problem, that is a community problem,” said Zuidema.

You can find more ways to get involved in reducing gun violence on the Lynchburg Police Department website.