Tarrant County, TX – Fort Worth authorities are deeply concerned about the increase in gun violence lately as more and more teenagers are getting killed. The rising concern over the gun violence in the area goes even further if we consider that a simple disagreement arises from something as small as a disagreement on social media over “likes.”
The last teenage victim was 16-year-old boy who was found dead with multiple gunshot wounds Monday night in an apartment breezeway on Weiler Boulevard in east Fort Worth.
The boy is not just Fort Worth’s latest homicide victim, he’s also at least the sixth teenager to die of gun violence in Tarrant County this month alone.
Four of those victims, two of whom the Medical Examiner confirmed as homicide victims, died in Fort Worth.
“From a young man, a police officer, who’s grown up in the neighborhoods where this is happening, it hurts,” Officer Tracy Carter said, giving a first-person perspective. “We want to change the outcome. We don’t want to see another young man or young lady laid to rest.”
Carter said the Fort Worth Police Department is deeply concerned about the violence, saying often times it arises from something as small as a disagreement on social media over “likes.”
Deputy Police Chief Chris Cook in Arlington is also concerned. In his city, a teen was recently shot to death outside Hurricane Harbor. He said they’re not just seeing teen victims, but teen perpetrators, as well.
“We’re seeing a lot of incidents… where we’re responding to shots being fired at parks or at residences or at cars,” Cook listed. “We don’t really have a victim, thankfully, no one’s been struck, but these are all potential homicides, and a lot of them deal with young people.”
He said teens’ involvement in shootings begs a bigger question: “Where are they getting access to firearms?”
Teenage suspects end up in Judge Alex Kim’s juvenile criminal court. He said juvenile gun violence in the county was down overall in 2020 during the pandemic, in spite of the recent spike being seen in teen victims. He also said overall, juvenile crime cases were down.
“But the severity of crimes – there were a whole lot more serious crimes, a lot more shootings, a lot more homicides,” Kim said.
Police departments are feverishly focusing now on increasing existing outreach or creating new programs. Both Fort Worth and Arlington offer mentoring programs and ways to connect with kids, and they want parents to get involved.
“There’s an unmet need that we need to look at, as a police department and as a community,” Carter said.
“We’re looking for ways to continue this conversation,” Cook added.
It’s a tough conversation that needs to be had, for the sake of Tarrant County’s youth.
It all comes as county officials look to curb an overall increase in violence – particularly homicides – this year that’s stretching first responders and their resources.