How can gun-related crimes with teens decrease? Community leaders seek answers

Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020
News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7

The Augusta Boxing Club is one place where community leaders are hoping kids learn discipline. (Source: WRDW)

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- This is day two for the search of 15-year-old Jaquavious Lindreas Taylor.

Taylor is wanted by the Richmond County Sheriff's Office for allegedly shooting and killing 17-year-old DeAngelo Burns.

Burns died Friday at the Circle K on Peach Orchard Road.

This brings up a question of how teens are getting guns.

In the past three years, 14 teens have been arrested for gun-related crimes. We spoke with two different programs that are trying to change those numbers.

Devon Harris, executive director of Full Circle Refuge works every day to change the lives of at-risk teens.

"Why are you here and they'll put what they're charged with or their mama, this and that. All that stuff on there is irrelevant to what we're trying to do,” Harris said. “That's past tense, we're looking at future tense."

The future is what he wants to change because the statistics in the past can't continue.

“It's their name. That's important. That's not going to change,” Harris said. “You could be known as Johnny the thug or Johnny the doctor and that's what we're trying to deal with."

According to the latest information from the U.S. Department of Justice, in 2018, Georgia recovered guns from 481 people who were 17 or younger

Augusta was the third highest city in Georgia for gun recoveries.

"It's sad,” Harris said. “It's sad out here in the community. It's a community that I grew up in, that I was raised in. I've been here for a long time."

Another group here to help is the Augusta Boxing Club and Ray Whitfield.

"I've got many different coaches, many different volunteers, so if I can't get to a kid, one of my other volunteers might talk to the kid, and they might relate better to that person,” Whitfield said.

Whitfield says boxing is about discipline, but when they leave here, they need the help of others to keep it going.

"You know we need all the help we can as a community to keep our community safe from things like that,” Whitfield said.

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