Metro chief discusses the juvenile gang threat in Savannah

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Zero point five percent. That represents the number of people living in our community willing to shoot and kill someone else in cold blood.

In Savannah, that translates into about 750 people. Mostly juveniles who don't have the capacity to or maturity to understand their impact.

But as we saw early Wednesday morning, it only takes one 17-year-old to shake this town to its core. Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Chief Jack Lumpkin did not hold back in his assessment of where we are and where we must go to save Savannah from itself.

"We have to hit them all over town. We also have to stop them where they are. If we don't stop them on their block, they will be on your block," Chief Lumpkin said.

Crowds of innocent people are little more than flies on a shooting range for a gangbanger bent on revenge.

Savannah is quickly becoming textbook material on juvenile gang behavior. Or, if you listened to the chief at Wednesday's news conference, we've actually had that distinction for a while now.

"You've had shootings that are gang-involved here downtown for years. You didn't classify it as gang involved," Chief Lumpkin said.

And it's that denial among city leaders for years that has brought us to where we are tonight, fighting for every scrap of intelligence that can head off events like this at the pass. That's getting harder in part due to social media that now allows full-blown rivalries to explode without eyes ever meeting.

"The digital world presents an opportunity that they can insult each other every day without being near each other," he said.

Yes. Your local gangs love Facebook, too.

Whether last night's interaction was built on a social media tirade is not known. What is painfully obvious for a community fighting these young gangs is that its members don't think like adults, don't have the same capacity for control. In fact, many don't have much capacity to think about their actions at all.

"A juvenile with a gun in his hand is much more dangerous than a 25 or 30-year-old with a gun in his hand," Chief Lumpkin stated.

Look back at 90 percent of the shootings in Savannah so far this year. It's been open season on teens.

Chief Lumpkin says the suspect charged with three murders, is the member of a gang that police have already whittled down to just a few members. All of them juveniles.

That's still just one down, dozens and dozens to go.

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