A 13-year-old boy being gunned down on his way home from football practice brought Jacksonville's new sheriff out calling for an end to the merciless violence as the city unofficially eclipsed 150 homicides so far this year.
At the same time in 2021, there were 123 homicides, according to Times-Union records that show Jacksonville is presently at 151. The boy also became the 11th homicide victim 17 or younger, while there were eight all of last year.
The teen died in a barrage of gunfire that also wounded an 11-year-old boy as well as a 20-year-old man who was driving them and two other youths home from the Legends Center and Gymnasium on Soutel Drive. Their sport-utility vehicle was shot about 6:30 p.m. Saturday while stopped at U.S. 1 and West Moncrief Road, according to the Sheriff's Office.
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"Listen, I'm very frustrated at this. I don't like it. I don't think it should ever happen under any circumstances," Sheriff T.K. Waters said during a media briefing. "To indiscriminately drive by a vehicle and fire shots into it not knowing who's inside the vehicle is uncalled for, unnecessary and I ask the community this, can we please stand together?"
Waters asked the community to unite with police to stop the bloodshed.
"Can we please fight this problem that we're having in our community because it's very frustrating," he implored. "It should not happen. And we lost a 13-year-old kid tonight, just going home from football practice."
Waters also put the shooter or shooters on notice.
"I will say this to anyone out there who is responsible: We're not going to rest, we're going to work and we're going continue to work until we find out who's responsible," Waters pledged.
"We ask our community to come join in to help us and tell us any information that you can because this is just not acceptable and not the way our community deserves to be treated."
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Motive unknown; driver believed to be coach
Police worked through the night at the shooting scene. Detectives were talking with witnesses and canvassing the neighborhood for security camera video.
Detectives have some descriptions of a possible vehicle and driver involved, Sheriff's Office Director Shawn Coarsey said. The motive remains unclear.
Coarsey said the shooting happened in the 5700 block of Moncrief Road West. Officers found the five victims inside a red SUV.
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The 13-year-old was deceased. The driver was hospitalized in critical condition and the 11-year-old boy in stable condition, he said. The two other boys were 14 and 15 years old and uninjured.
Police believe the driver was one of the coaches.
Anyone with information on the case can contact the Sheriff's Office at (904) 630-0500 or First Coast Crime Stoppers at (866) 845-8477 (845-TIPS) to remain anonymous and be eligible for rewards. Or email JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org or email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Florida Times-Union: Jacksonville teen killed, two others wounded in drive-by shooting