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Troubling Trend: Teen violence in Savannah

Published: Oct. 7, 2021 at 6:44 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - We’re closely following a troubling trend: teen violence in Savannah.

In the span of 11 days last month, two teenagers were shot-and-killed in the city. Our WTOC Investigates team looked-into this problem.

After going nine months without a deadly teen shooting, we just saw two, in less than two weeks. And now, families of victims and police are pushing for an end to the violence.

“And I’m like, ‘No. Uh-uh. This cannot be my son.’ And it was. But I kept waiting for him to come home. Every day. And he never came home,” said Madiha Clarke, son murdered in 2018.

Kenneth Frazier and Madiha Clarke lost their son, Kaleel Clarke, in 2018. Police say a 19-year-old shot-and-killed Clarke on Savannah State’s Campus. Madiha says she’s had a difficult time, coming to grips with Kaleel’s death.

Sadly, they are not alone.

Down at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac on Savannah’s south side, a birthday poster is up. But the person they’re celebrating - or, honoring - didn’t get to see it.

September 22 would have been Qahmaine Orr’s 15th birthday. Police say he was murdered 9 days before it.

WTOC talked to his parents off-camera. They told us they hope their son’s memory can help spark a change.

However, new numbers from Savannah Police show the problem isn’t going away. Last year, 20 people under the age of 19 were shot. Five of them, including a 16-year-old, died. *Savannah Police referred to this victim as a 6-year-old in a previous report. It has since been corrected by police to a 16-year-old.

This year, 19 have already been shot in Savannah, including the two recent deaths.

2021 Homicides w/ gun (Victims 18 and younger): 2

  • Ages:14 and 17
  • Dates: 09/13/21 and 09/24/2021

2021 Non-Fatal Shooting Victims (18 and younger): 19

  • Ages: 16 months, 9, 11, 15(x3), 16(x4), 17(x3), and 18 (x6)
  • Dates: 02/04/21, 05/06/21, 06/11/21 (x3), 06/25/21, 07/02/21, 07/05/21(x2), 07/19/20(x3), 07/20/21(x2), 07/30/21 (x3), 09/04/21, and 09/25/21

Clarke says it’s important people remember, each one of those numbers is a real person, with a family.

“People treat the word murder, and shot, and shots, and jail, and gun shots like it’s a normal word,” Clarke said.

“Those words are not normal. Those words are irreversible.”

“These things are very concerning for us,” said Savannah Police Chief Roy Minter.

Savannah Police Chief Roy Minter says, while overall violence is down in the city, putting an end to teen violence, is a top priority.

“We’re looking at three main areas. The first has to do with access to firearms in our community. The second has to do with confrontations, altercations between parties. And the third part is poor decision making,” said Chief Minter.

Minter says teens shooting each other, is also a big concern. Ten teenagers have already been arrested in-connection to various shootings this year alone. Eleven teen shooters were arrested all of last year.

As WTOC Investigates has previously reported, Minter says the teens often use stolen guns.

“Very disappointing, when you’re running into situations where you’re running into youth that are armed with a firearm,” said Chief Minter.

“We continue to send a message to members of our community to please, please secure your firearms.”

Minter says it’s time for the community, to step-up. Clarke agrees.

“Murdered. Murdered doesn’t ever end for the person who was murdered. And it doesn’t ever end for the family,” said Clarke.

The Clarke’s are hoping that more charges will come from their son’s death.

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