It’s a tragic trend that has left experts and the families of victims struggling for answers – young teens committing acts of violence, even murder.
Walter Hill is acutely aware of how bad the problem has become. His son, Gary Waloke, was shot in the back and killed in March. The suspect in his killing – 15-year-old Rommello Bolden.
“I guided my kids right, my kids were not no bad kids,” said Hill. “I’m trying to figure out how they’re getting the guns. Are they getting guns out of their parents house, or are they stealing guns from their peers or going over to their friends house, I don’t know.”
Bolden, who was just 14 at the time of the alleged murder, is the sixth homicide suspect this year in Kansas City under the age of 16, according to Kansas City Police Department statistics, up from four a year ago.
But Alvin Brooks of the Ad Hoc Group Against Violence says that there are probably a lot more young killers out there, noting the number of unsolved homicides in the city.
“When the truth be told about some of these other homicides, you’re going to see that there in about the same age group as this young fellow is,” said Brooks. “Here we are 2011, teenagers killing each other. Emulating what they see to a great degree in the movies, what they see in this whole hip-hop to the dance, to the music, and all that.”
Brooks says that he is optimistic that next year will be better, thanks to a new KCPD chief.
But until the number of young violent offenders starts to drop, families like Walter Hill’s won’t be able to sleep soundly.
“Then I can rest in peace, because my son is not here anymore,” said Hill.