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Teens and Guns: a problem that plagues communities

ESCAMBIA COUNTY - Teens and guns, it's a problem that plagues communities and transcends race and social class.
In a Channel Three News special report, Kavontae Smalls set out for answers on how and why some of our teenagers get a hold of guns and pull the trigger.

"Our family is still dealing with that to this day" said Toni Washington, Grandson killed during teen gun violence.

Talking about teen gun violence is one thing, but to live through it, is another.  Every time Toni Washington looks into her china cabinet, it reminds her of her one year old grandson, Ty'Quarious Moultrie.
From the bottle he held, to the bag of chips he ate in July 2011, that's when he was shot by Dwayne Pinestraw.
Pinestraw was 19 years old when he pulled the trigger, now he's serving a life sentence.

"If it wasn't my grandson, it would have been somebody else, and it still can be somebody else, and as long as those guns are still out there, it's still going to keep happening" said Washington.

Teen gun violence can strike anywhere, but it's especially disheartening for the innocent.

"It took a whole year in therapy to be able to try and walk again" said Jamal Lee, Victim of teen gun violence.

At the age of 16, Jamal Lee found himself in the line of fire in a drive-by shooting.
He says his shooter was retaliating against a member of his family.

"I got shot two times in my back, I got pronounced dead in the hospital, but the doctor brought me back and said I was paralyzed and would never walk again" said Lee.

Pastor Lonnie Wesley says there's no clear answer to stopping teen gun violence.
He feels a means to curbing the violence starts by talking to kids early on... 

"That child has to feel good about his educational opportunities, and take advantage of it" said Pastor Lonie Wesley, Greater Little Rock Baptist Church.

Wesley is the Pastor of Greater Little Rock Baptist Church.
Last year after his church hosted a basketball game, a fight broke out.
During the fight, one of the players, fired into a crowd, shooting two people. 

"Each teenager has to know there is a better alternative for his life, than pulling that trigger" said Wesley.

"Where are these kids getting all of these guns, that's what we've got to stop right there" said Larry Rice, Escambia County Resident.

A lot of questions exist about teens and guns, but answering them is difficult because each case is different. 

"They're getting them through other crimes being committed.
When they're breaking in houses or breaking in cars, these guns are being stolen" said Captain David Alexander, Pensacola Police Department.

In the end, it's not the guns doing the killing instead it's the people pulling the trigger.
The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice created the Positive Achievement Change Tool (PACT).
It compiled data on juvenile delinquency from 2007 to 2012.
It may help answer the nagging question 'why some teens resort to violence in the first place?'
In Northwest Florida, most juvenile crimes happen because they're acting on 'impulse', in the heat of the moment.  Anger and motivation by peers are other top reasons.

Pastor Wesley says prayers, marches and anti-violence rallies alone won't stop the violence.
Instead, the entire community must stand up to the culture of violence.
This includes sharing what they know with law enforcement.

"As long as things like this is going on and people are keeping their mouth shut, they're going to feel like they can get away with it and they're going to keep doing it" said Washington.

The PACT Profile reveals top reasons that drive juveniles to crime in Northwest Florida.



OKALOOSA - IMPULSE (41%)   MONEY & DRUGS (19%)   ANGER (18%)