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Detroit — The brazen gun violence that killed two city children and injured another all in the past month has shaken residents who worry the gunmen aren’t finished and kids aren’t safe to play outside.

Detroiters said Monday they were in disbelief that children are now the victims of altercations between adults.

“I’m scared,” said Alethea Mitchell, as she sat on her porch with her 1-year-old niece just a few blocks away from where 6-month-old Miracle Murray was killed. “That’s sad that they do stuff like that and they retaliate on these babies.”

Mitchell, 57, said she now refuses to take her niece for walks in the neighborhood, especially when she sees large groups gathered in front of houses.

Police Chief James Craig said Monday that in reaction to the numerous killings he is launching an anti-crime initiative with churches and community groups, along with stepped-up enforcement by police, beginning in the 8th Precinct, where two of the recent shootings took place.

Carisa Francis, who lives less than a block away from where a 4-year-old was shot on Saturday, said her 11-year-old son was outside playing with his friends when gunshots rang out. The children witnessed the shooting and Francis’ son started running down the street.

“I’m pissed off about it,” said Francis, 41. “(The children) were in shock. They didn’t really understand what just happened.”

Francis said some community members believe the shooters are targeting the children. Others say the kids are getting caught in the crossfire.

Police suspect two of the shootings are related, saying the April 16 fatal shooting of Miracle was a retaliation of the killing of 3-year-old A’Naiya Denise Montgomery on Easter.

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Miracle was shot while playing in a yard on the 18000 block of Winthrop with other babies, and a 24-year-old man who was wounded. A’Naiya was killed while inside a home on the 16800 block of Riverview when a man kicked in the front door around 2:10 a.m. and began shooting.

The 4-year-old was shot while playing outside with his father on the 18300 block of Monica when a pair of masked men opened fire. The 24-year-old dad was killed.

Annie Reese, who lives on Monica, said the shooters have no regard for life. The neighborhood is home to a lot of families and children are always playing and riding bikes down the street, she said.

“It’s stupidity,” Reese said. “It seems intentional. Why would you want to kill somebody’s baby just to get back at a person?”

Fred Nichols has owned his home on Winthrop for 43 years and said he’s never heard of children being killed in the neighborhood. He described the area as peaceful and usually safe.

Nichols, 70, said he was in shock when he heard gunshots April 16 and later walked outside to hear that a baby had been shot to death.

“It’s quite a shame,” Nichols said. “When you hear about a grown-up, that’s bad enough. But an innocent baby, that’s ridiculous.”

Wendell Scott, who lives near Winthrop, said shooters in Detroit are getting bolder and will fire at anyone in sight.

“It makes me feel bad,” said Scott, 49, a motivational speaker. “Any time kids can’t come out and play in their own front yard, that’s bad.”

nterry@detroitnews.com

313-222-6793

@NicquelTerry

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