Columbus Police Grow Concerned As Murder Rate Climbs Among Those Under 30
Columbus police are concerned about a growing murder rate, especially considering the age of the victims.
Of the 54 homicides in Columbus this year, 14 percent of the victims are under 30 years old. The majority are young African-American males.
Police say they can't pin point why the numbers are higher this year than the past three years. But, the impact is tearing apart families and leaving children without mothers and fathers.
"It's still not real," says Danielle Johns.
She says it's hard to walk to her own backyard.
"I came home to police all up and down my street," she says.
Johns' boyfriend was found dead in the yard on May 5, 2014.
Roderick Davis, 26, was the city's 32nd homicide victim. He left behind two children. Children who continue to ask their Mom – “Where is Daddy?”
"My three year old doesn't understand why his dad can't take him anywhere. He just thinks he can wish him back," she says.
Police charged 29-year-old Anthony Gore, a family friend, with his murder.
"Egos got in the way and now he's gone," she says.
Police say African-American males overwhelmingly make up the largest group of the 54 homicides in the city.
Thirty-five African-American males were shot to death this year, compared with six African-American females and seven white males.
If you look at Columbus homicide rate over the past 10 years, this year’s numbers aren't as high, when you consider we had 108 homicides in 2008 and 105 in 2010.
Over the past 10 years we average about 95 homicides a year.
"It's scary that young people are taking other young people's lives," says Devin Shaw, program director of the Urban Leagues Urban Warriors. The group finds at risk youth and teaches them coping skills to prevent violence.
"That's one thing we really don't teach when we're in school, we teach math and science. But, conflict resolution and anger management is what WE focus on," he says.
Fifteen-year-old Mark Skipper is one of the kids he helped get off the streets.
"I was always getting in trouble, I never would be the kid to think I would get a job," he says.
Now the Urban League is paying him and other children to design a better East Columbus.
"I feel better. I get a job. I feel like a man," he says.
As for Danielle Johns, she has a message for those who use violence to solve their problems.
"Be the bigger person and let it go," she says.
Police also tell us that young African-American males are also the ones doing the shooting. Nine of the suspects arrested were between the ages of 18 and 21 years old.