Community groups hoping to reach at-risk youth before it’s too late

(Source: Chatham County Sheriff's Office)
(Source: Chatham County Sheriff's Office)
(Source: Facebook)
(Source: Facebook)
(Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Video shows the havoc wreaked in the heart of downtown as hundreds of people were heading home from Fourth of July festivities. Gunfire coming from the white SUV leaving three people hurt.

Later on, the driver of the SUV led police on a chase ending with the crash, killing Scott Waldrup and injuring five more people.

We are learning more about the people inside the SUV. The driver, 17-year-old Jerry Chambers, Jr is facing charges. His two passengers, 20-year-old Gabriel Magulias and 17-year-old Spencer Stuckey died.

All three of these young men have criminal records.

If they survived the crash, Magulias and Stuckey could have been sitting next to Chambers in jail.

Community activists say this goes to show what can happen when teens continue heading down a dangerous path.

Savannah Youth City begins "Ignite Change Savannah" on Friday. The group goes into different neighborhoods for 10 days. Their goal is to help teens and young adults live a productive life.

When the white SUV crashed into a crowd of pedestrians, the lives of an innocent bystander and two young adults came to an end. A fourth life is possibly destined for a life in prison.

Beverlee Trotter's goal is to help Savannah's teens avoid two places.

"Either prison or death," Trotter said.

Community groups and police agree that a life of crime leads to the grave or a prison cell. Preventing those outcomes will take everyone.

"It's more important than ever that we give something to do, that we hold on to them, and more importantly that we love them," Trotter said.

Trotter's 10-day "Ignite Change" event kicks off in East Savannah on Friday. She takes a group of volunteers and sets up shop in some of our most vulnerable neighborhoods. She teaches, encourages and shows young people the way.

"It's not enough to just say we want a change. Sometimes young people need to know we're here. We're not just saying, 'we want you to do better.' We want to show you how to do better," she said.

For the past two days, city leaders and police have stressed the importance of the community's help in the fight against gun violence in Savannah. Trotter's efforts are a good example of what it will take.

"I believe that even if we reach one person, and they change their whole life, or change their conditions, not their life, but they change their conditions, that we're successful," Trotter said.

Success like that is what's necessary for this city to get a handle on violent crime plaguing Savannah's neighborhoods.

Trotter also heads a gun buyback program targeting teens with guns. The 17-year-old killed in this recent wreck had been arrested just two months before with a gun.

Now, police are still investigating whether that young man and the other victim were the gunmen or whether they were picked up after the shooting. Although the surveillance video shows other people in the SUV, no one can tell exactly who those people are.

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