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Teen homicide numbers in Baton Rouge already surpassed last year's numbers

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BATON ROUGE - Since the beginning of the year, the number of juveniles arrested for homicide in Baton Rouge have surpassed the total number in 2023.

BRPD said nine juveniles were arrested on homicide charges last year. Five months into 2024, nine juveniles have been arrested on homicides that happened inside city limits. 

City leaders and community activists say the uptick in killings by teens is startling, and they’re working towards community-centered solutions.

The first killing of the year happened on New Year's day. Ramide Cosey, 15, was found dead on Evangeline Street. Emergency officials said five victims were found in different locations. Three juveniles were later arrested for the shooting.

One month later, two teens were arrested in connection with the death of David Atkins, an 18-year-old who escaped from East Baton Rouge Parish's Juvenile Detention Facility. 

BRPD arrested another teenager on homicide charges Feb. 16. Police said the 16-year-old shot and killed 36-year-old George Johnson at a home on Evangeline Street. 

On Wednesday, May 1, two 16-year-olds were arrested in the killing of 23-year-old Daon Scott, who was found shot to death at BREC's Longfellow Park days before. 

Five days later, a 14-year-old grabbed a gun in the middle of an argument with relative 46-year-old Sharderick Jones and shot him. Jones died in a hospital the following day and the teen was arrested.

District Attorney Hillar Moore says in his 50 years serving Baton Rouge, he’s never seen teen homicide statistics so high this early in the year. Moore says the numbers are reflective of a greater trend nationwide.

“We’ve seen a really big increase in juvenile defendants that are being charged with first-degree murder, second-degree murder and other crimes of violence involving guns,” Moore said.

Raymond Jetson, President and CEO of MetroMorphosis, says his organization aims in transforming inner city neighborhoods through social programming. Jetson attributed the change to increased access to weapons.

“There is very little teaching, mentoring, around how to deal with conflict that happens in communities,” Jetson said. “There is an absence in meaningful opportunities for activities that will develop the young people that we are talking about.”

Moore says in the arrests of juveniles, officers have seen more weapons which are fashioned to be automatic.

Moore says the issue is systemic and putting students in classrooms will lower recidivism. He says for years East Baton Rouge leaders have discussed ways to meaningfully improve the school district

“If we travel to Mississippi, Alabama, states that struggle like we are, their public education is much further advanced than ours,” Moore said. “I think we are way far behind on that scale and we need to catch up.”

Oftentimes, community leaders suggest struggling teens need engaging, fun programs. Jetson agrees, but he says folks reaching out to young people and wanting to make a lasting impact, need to go a step further.

“Yes we need to focus on improving the success of boys in these schools, which means addressing the way that we practice discipline, suspensions, expulsions, out of school placement, and other things, but this is not something the school system will solve alone,” he said. “We’re going to have to act collectively or we’re going to suffer collectively.”

District Attorney Hillar Moore says the city is conducting a study which pinpoints just how important public education is to struggling teens. He says the study will show the connection between school attendance, violent crime, truancy, and how they all relate together.

“If we paid more money and more attention to public education and kids that are at a young age, then we’re going to pay less at the end, or in law-enforcement and corrections ”

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