The findings aren’t entirely new: gun violence and homicides increased throughout the country during the height of the pandemic. Atlanta has seen the homicide county climb for the past three years. But that means many of those victims have been young, a troubling trend that has the city’s leaders and police department pleading for help from parents.
“There’s just too many guns in the hands of our youth,” Atlanta police Deputy Chief Charles Hampton Jr. said after a Midtown shooting right after Thanksgiving that killed a 12-year-old and 15-year-old.
Last year in Atlanta, 19 children and teens were homicide victims, according to data released by APD. Just weeks into the year, Grayson Matthew Fleming-Gray, who was 6 months old, was in his car seat when his mother’s car was struck in a drive-by shooting.
In 2021, 16 Atlanta homicide victims were children and teens in 2020, that number was 22.
According to the Pew findings, boys and older children and teens are most likely to be killed by gunfire — a trend also seen in Atlanta.
So far this year, homicide numbers are down in Atlanta, and that has city leaders optimistic. By April 1, police had investigated 22 homicides, down from 43 on April 1, 2022.
Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens called on community leaders to continue furthering the city’s legacy by supporting young people in his second State of the City address in late March.
“I was once like them: a child of Atlanta,” Dickens said. “The leaders who came before me left their mark on this city. I am living proof of their legacy. I’m standing here because of the city they built.”