MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Violence is a big problem in Milwaukee. Just last week -- we saw two young children shot as they sat in a van near 37th and Hadley. That incident had Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn stepping up patrols in the area -- vowing to give residents in high-crime neighborhoods a little peace of mind -- a "taste of life in the suburbs." FOX6 News learned first-hand recently that many families need such a break, especially in this city, after sundown.
Maybe it's his disposition: friendly, but authoritative. Or maybe it's the signs throughout his store, but it takes about 30 seconds to conclude that Robert Jones is a man of faith and good cheer.
He and his wife, Eloise run the "Prosperity Hands" dry cleaning shop on North Teutonia. It is a welcoming place. People flow in and out -- but at the end of the business day, Jones makes sure there will be no unwanted visitors.
As day turns to night, Jones will go to a place where locks are always in use: his home.
It's a Friday night in summer. Eloise fries catfish on the stove. Their daughter Diamond sets the table for dinner.
It is a beautiful night on Milwaukee's north side -- perfect for enjoying dinner outside. But the Jones' don't dare even consider it.
"You don't know what might happen next, so you don't put yourself in harm's way. If we want to go out at night, we get in the car and go to the lakefront," Eloise Jones said.
Their caution isn't based in paranoia, but history.
"We've had gunfire just across the street," Eloise Jones said.
Shooting after shooting after shooting -- some of them fatal, have occurred just blocks from their home near 13th and Ring.
The Jones' aren't the only ones afraid to go outside. On the night FOX6 visited, not a single neighbor took advantage of the summer breeze.
"When I hear gunfire I look at my husband and say 'let it not be another death in the community,'" Eloise Jones said.
When asked how often they hear gunshots, the Jones' responded: every night.
And then, as if on cue -- a gunshot was heard as a FOX6 crew interviewed the family.
The Jones' home is well-kept, inviting and loving. It is filled with laughter, but there's also a lot of precaution. The family stays inside at night -- rarely using their own front porch. And it's not just a fear of gunfire. It's quality of life.
"Somebody's parked their car and blowing their music. The whole house shakes," Robert Jones said.
Robert and Eloise Jones' daughter Diamond has two goals. Short-term: to be a great dancer. Long-term: to be a police detective. She's tough, smart and thoughtful. She can take care of herself -- and yet outside her own door is so much potential for trouble. She's not allowed to go alone to the neighborhood grocery store just two blocks away.
"I will never walk to it because every time I look outside there's a group of young men and ladies -- and you never know what trouble they might cause. Some might cause trouble -- some might not. I don't put myself in that situation," Diamond Jones said.
"It seems unfair because you try your hardest to be a role model, to do right, and the neighborhood kicks you in the tail," Robert Jones said.
This family isn't bitter about what happens on the street. They are empathetic.
"My life is an open book," Eloise Jones said.
18 years ago, their lives were much different.
"I was a drug addict, dealer," Eloise Jones said.
"I was a backsliding minister," Robert Jones said.
Since their conversion to Christianity, they've been clean and sober and have raised four responsible children.
"I tell them the truth. I tell them what's out there. They know where their mom been. I didn't hide it. They know where their dad been," Eloise Jones said.
So, they know the streets, and they know they're more frightening now than ever before. Eloise Jones recounted a conversation she recently had at the dry cleaning shop.
"I shared with him where I came from and I said 'what's the difference now -- between then and now?' He said trust," Eloise Jones said.
"Their value of life is zero," Robert Jones said.
That's why fighting the fight alone is precarious.
Late at night, in his own backyard, Robert Jones explains why people are reluctant to speak up.
"That's their music, and they feel that they have a right to play that. Me telling them -- 'hey man, why don't you turn that down?' I'm either going to get cussed out, capped at, or they're going to come back and do a drive-by," Robert Jones said.
Yet, they haven't given up -- and they won't. Their faith won't allow it.
"We trust the same God that brought us through the hell we were just in. You try and connect with your neighbor. You do your best -- and maybe, just maybe, another neighbor will catch on," Eloise Jones said.