In a press conference on Wednesday morning, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin addressed the latest life lost in the city, which has seen near record-breaking levels of violent crime this year.

Audrianna Pearson, 12, was sleeping in her bed on Tuesday night when a bullet struck her. First responders with the Birmingham Fire and Rescue pronounced her dead at the scene.

“It’s four days before Christmas, and for all purposes, all families are excited about what’s to come in four days,” Woodfin said. “... But Audrianna’s family will not necessarily have that excitement.”

Pearson’s murder is the 140th homicide so far this year, only 10 of which were ruled justifiable, according to reports. The record for murders in Birmingham was set in 1991, when 141 people in the city were killed by other individuals.

According to Woodfin, the bullet that struck Pearson was one of 17 discharged during a drive-by shooting. Drive-by shootings have been involved with several of the murders in Birmingham this year.

“We talk about crime,” Woodfin said. “We have homicides in our city. But it’s very different when it’s an innocent child.”

In September, Woodfin called on gangs to “chill out and put the guns down,” indicating that the rise in violence might be due to conflict between rival criminal groups. During the press conference, Woodfin said that the city was addressing the gang issue and that it was working with federal agencies to address drug trafficking and sales.

“It’s never enough, but you still throw every available tool and resource you can at the issue,” Woodfin said.

He claimed that state law enforcement prevented him from addressing the “gun crisis” and criticized the state and federal governments for not passing stricter gun laws. 

“I’m not given more resources to say [I] have the unilateral power to do everything you can to prevent the sale, access and ease of guns in our streets, where conflict has not changed but the access to guns, the access to this type of tool - this high-powered assault rifle - has changed, that allows people to just simply pull triggers,” Woodfin said. “If I had the power, gun laws would be different in Birmingham than any other place in Alabama.”

Woodfin also took to Twitter and Facebook, calling on witnesses to come forward with any information about the crime.

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email or find him on Twitter and Facebook.

Don’t miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.