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Juvenile felony crimes down, juvenile thefts on the rise in Nashville

Two young children were killed in a shooting while a 12-year-old was behind the wheel of a stolen pickup truck on I-24. The tragedy shining a light on juvenile crime here in Nashville.

Advocates against youth violence like Bishop Marcus Campbell, from The Church at Mt. Carmel, in North Nashville are shocked by the shooting death of a 12 and 14-year-old boy on I-24 E Tuesday morning. For the last five years, his program, G.A.N.G (Gentleman and Not Gangsters), has provided mentoring to young men in hopes of keeping them far away from trouble.

“It really shows me that even though the stuff that I do and other people in the community in mentoring programs and different things, it’s so much more work to be done out here,” said Bishop Campbell.

Abdiwahab Adan was a seventh-grade student at J.T. Moore Middle School and Donquez Abernathy was a freshman at Hillsboro High School. Metro police say a 16-year-old boy shot the two inside of a stolen pickup truck around 3:15 a.m. He and a 14-year-old female passenger, who was also in the truck, were taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center after the incident.

In a statement to News 2, Metro Nashville Public Schools said, “Our hearts go out to the family, friends, students and staff who are mourning the loss of these two young children to a senseless act of gun violence. Our staff are working with the school communities affected to offer grief counseling and support.”

Many are questioning, what would motivate four young kids to be in a stolen pickup with a weapon during the overnight hours?

“Just excitement and hanging around with the crew as they would say,” said Bishop Campbell. “The adrenaline rush and doing what they want to do at the time not really thinking about the future and about the consequences behind what they do.”

The tragedy has placed a spotlight again on juvenile crimes, a topic often discussed in Nashville. There is some positive news to pass along. According to Davidson County Juvenile Court, juvenile arrests overall for crimes are down by 34% compared to this time last year. Juvenile violent felonies are down by 56%, especially aggravated robberies and carjackings. But, police are concerned about the rise in juvenile felony thefts, mainly stolen vehicles. The number is up by 6.9% since last year, a trend that has continued to increase since 2013.

COVID-19 has been a major roadblock for organizations like Campbell’s, who says face-to-face interaction is critical.

“The youth that needs to be targeted is never at these meetings and we’ve gotta find a way to bridge the gap, get into the community, boots on the ground and say ‘Hey I love you, I’m here, what do you need?’”

He’s encouraging parents who have suspicions that their child could be walking down a dangerous path to never be afraid to reach out.