Community says recent shooting shows problem with teens, guns

Community says recent shooting shows problem with teens, guns (Image 1)

The mother of a Nashville teen shot and wounded by his friend says her family is surrounding him in prayer.

William Blackwell's mother added the 18-year-old's condition has remained unchanged from when he was rushed to the hospital following a shooting at a friend's house Wednesday night.

Metro police have since ruled the shooting accidental and have not filed charges against the other teen, 18-year-old Robert Goodner.

Blackwell's shooting is the most recent involving two teens who were friends handling a gun.

In January, Kevin Barbee, 15, was killed inside a Hermitage apartment when his friend Kaemon Robinson, 17, shot him.

Metro police charged Robinson with criminal homicide in connection with the shooting.

Community leader Reverend Enoch Fuzz said these two cases highlight the larger issue of guns in the hands of teens. Many of the teens are not 18-years-old.

“We have been living with this a long time,” he said. “You are talking about nothing new under the sun with the gun violence in our community.”

Rev. Fuzz and other ministers from around Nashville have worked together and along with law enforcement to find initiative to stop the spread of guns.

They have partnered to have gun give back days where people can turn guns over to police no questions asked and in some case are given gift cards in return.

Rev. Fuzz has also advocated for parents to become more involved.

“You have to not be naive,” he said. “You cannot think you have a friend in your son, because your son needs a mama.”

One of the groups that were created as a result is “Jr. Esquires,” a group of boys aged nine to 12 years old who sing and dance.

They also pledge to be gun free.

Three of the members told News 2 about their experiences with seeing guns in their neighborhoods.

“I was walking to the store and they were shooting at a man,” nine-year-old Calvin said. “That's when they told me to get down.”

Another member, 11-year-old Mario, said his family had been robbed at gunpoint multiple times, by teenagers.

“They held up my sister, my auntie and have [broken] into my grandmother's house,” he said. “It's not just one gun, it's several guns and they just keep doing it and doing it.”

At the Juvenile Justice Center Judge, Sophia Brown Crawford said getting guns out of the hands of juvenile is a top priority among the many other services and programs they offer children and their parents.

“Anytime a person under the age of 18 is in possession of a hand gun it's a public safety risk and a risk to themselves,” Judge Crawford said. “What we are interested in doing is being proactive rather than reactive.”

In juvenile court any juvenile convicted of gun possession gets a minimum 30 days confinement even on first offense.

The court also focuses heavily on reducing recidivism, increasing parent involvement and educating parents on how to properly hold their children accountable.

Judge Crawford said parents are in a better position to check on their children.

“Check their Facebook accounts because, you would be surprised the number of parents who are surprised by Facebook posts they were not aware of that show their children holding handguns,” she said. “If parents own a handgun make sure it is secured at all times or under supervision when it is out.”  

She continued, “Just be a parent.”

Juveniles on probation are subject to random unannounced checks by probation officers and room searches. 

In 2013, probation officers conducted 25,000 face-to-face checks. That includes 2,592 curfew checks and 400 room searches.  

During a sweep of room searches, officers recovered a shotgun, two handguns and various illegal drugs.  

Judge Brown said parents can also reach out to the juvenile court if they have questions about how to keep their children on the right path.  

“We have a number of staff here and lots of programs that can help parents,” she said.

In 2013, 119 juveniles were charged with possession of a handgun first offense and 11 were charged with second offense handgun possession.

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