Florida

Gun violence against children in Jacksonville is growing

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Recent data from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that the US is responsible for 97% of gun-related child deaths, among other countries.

The New York Times reports that guns are now the number one killer of American children and youth, including children shot in Jacksonville.

A woman spoke anonymously to News4JAX after two youths were shot dead in her neighborhood on Tuesday.

“I was very lucky that my daughter wasn’t playing outside,” she said. Police said the children may be fine, but some parents are not.

“Two children being shot. I think the whole community should be outraged,” said LaTasha Hobbs. She lost her son to gun violence in 2017. No arrests were made in the case.

Hobbs continues to fight for justice, although she believes Jacksonville is complicit when it comes to gun violence. News4JAX data from 2022 shows 31 children were shot. Eleven of them are dead.

The eleventh case this year occurred about two weeks ago with the shooting of 13-year-old Prince Holland. Of the 11, only 8 were arrested.

Candlelight vigil honoring Prince Holland, a boy who passed by in a car

“I had no arrest for Maurice. Prince Holland’s mother has not been arrested. The community does not respond. Nobody says anything,” Hobbs said. “So these killers are still on the loose. They could be standing behind you at the gas station in the supermarket.”

It’s a problem across the country.

Data from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that the US had the highest death rate of children and adolescents from firearms among peer countries in 2020. They say gun deaths in the US are 56.2 per million people aged 1 to 19.

Hobbs sends this message to Prince Holland’s mother – as they await justice in the case.

“There are no words to describe what she feels. I just want her to know that she’s loved and the communities that have her back,” Hobbs said. “I’m here for you. I understand the strength it takes to put your feet on the ground and I just want her to know that she will not be walking this journey alone. And I’m there for them.”

Hobbs said city leaders needed to stop talking and taking action. She urges gun owners to be responsible and believes there must be trust between the community and the police.

She wants programs that work in our communities to be properly funded. If you have information about Hobbs or Holland’s case, you are asked to call JSO or CrimeStoppers.

Copyright 2022 by WJXT News4JAX – All Rights Reserved.

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