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11-year-old recovering from shooting, Savannah police address concerns over questioning kids

Published: Sep. 26, 2021 at 6:47 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 28, 2021 at 7:05 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Detectives with Savannah Police’s Violent Crimes unit are investigating the shooting of a male minor on Saturday.

Police say they received a ShotSpotter call around 12:15 p.m. near 37th and Cedar Streets. A minor with a non-life-threatening gunshot wound to his “foot area” was found and transported to a nearby hospital, according to the release from the department.

Savannah Police say the victim was 11 years old. Savannah Mayor Van Johnson confirmed his injuries were non-life threatening.

Savannah Police said in a press release Sunday, detectives questioned “multiple individuals” at Savannah Police Headquarters. Savannah Police say the incident appears “to be an isolated incident between known parties.”

What really has parents up in arms is they say police tried to interrogate their kids without their permission. Alderman Detric Leggett told WTOC when he got on scene, he saw the kids who were shot at in police cars.

He says parents weren’t able to speak with their kids. He added police say they were trying to remove the kids from the scene to talk somewhere else - against their parents’ wishes.

“It was horrifying. To have not only the mothers, family members, community and different victim’s family members pop up, it was almost out of control,” said Alderman Leggett.

Alderman Leggett says the group of 11 to 14-year-olds were on their way home from a youth football game.

“Before they got to 37th Street, someone in a car pulled up on them and started firing at the kids.”

After one was shot, the group ran to a neighbor’s home on 36th Street.

“They went through some yards and got to a safe place but what subsequently happened, the person that was chasing them pulled out a gun and held a gun to the head of one of the neighbors and asked where the kids are.”

Alderman Leggett says that neighbor and the boys were able to get away, call police and their parents. However, he says parents told him police already began questioning their kids and putting them in police cars before they could all get to the scene.

“Police said that they were going to get the kids from the scene take them to the barracks get them away from what was going on and create dialogue some place else. But the parents were telling me that they would bring their kids to the police station. They didn’t want them to be transported. But the officers took them from the scene.”

After parents got to police headquarters, Alderman Leggett says he and Mayor Johnson were there to speak with families as they were called into the building one at a time while their kids were inside.

“We’ve got to own when there’s a wrong so I think that there was a wrong. There’s some training that needs to be had and some conversations with the community that need to happen. I’m just glad that we have an opportunity to be in the community to talk for individuals or be in the gap when there’s nobody there.”

Alderman Leggett also says he’s worried about how this shooting will affect this group of young boys mentally.

Anyone with additional information about this incident is asked to contact Savannah Police detectives at (912) 525-3124 or CrimeStoppers at (912) 234-2020 or submit tips online through the CrimeStoppers tip portal.

Savannah Police address concerns from city leader and residents

Savannah Alderman Detric Leggett told WTOC parents and community members told him police had begun questioning the group of children and putting them in police cars before parents could all get to the scene of a shooting.

Shortly after the group of children where shot at, Major Ben Herron says Savannah Police arrived on scene and spoke with victims. However, Savannah Alderman Leggett says that made parents and residents very concerned at the scene.

“What we do in all investigations when talking to people,” said Major Herron. “You’re asking for name, D.OB., where you live. It’s my understanding those questions incited some of the people saying you can’t question kids.”

Major Herron says a decision was made to place the children in cars with parent’s permission. Major Herron says that’s where confusion came in with those on scene.

“Sometimes from the on looker standpoint, things might not look like how citizens want it to be, but we’re not doing something inappropriate.”

WTOC found that there is no apparent state law preventing police from speaking to minors without parental consent. SPD says there is no state law that governs the age you can or cannot question someone either. But they do prefer to ask for parental consent before questioning minors.

Captain David Gay says it is general practice for SPD to get people involved in situations like this out of the area and bring them to headquarters to control the situation and investigate.

“In those situations, it’s general practice for us to try and get the people who are involved in those situations out of that neighborhood. Back here at headquarters we can control the scene and again slow things down and start putting pieces of the puzzle together,” said Captain Gay.

Savannah Police say they have not received any formal complaints from parents.

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