The shooting death of a 13-year-old girl remains unsolved, and now Jacksonville leaders are sounding off about it.
On Saturday morning, police say someone opened fire on a home on Missouri Avenue in Biltmore, killing 13-year-old Jazmine Shelton, who was inside. Detectives say her friend, 14-year-old Megan Simmons, is in critical condition at a hospital. Three others were inside, but not hit.
It's the latest in a string of crimes where children were killed, and Sheriff John Rutherford says he has seen enough.
"I just left the scene where I have a dead 13-year-old and 14-year-old in the hospital who is on her death bed," Rutherford said. "That's why I'm here."
After the fatal shooting Saturday, he made an emotional plea for help in finding who killed Shelton (pictured, right) and left Simmons fighting for her life. Rutherford said he was fed up that violent, senseless crimes like this one continue to happen in the city, and he wants to put a stop to it.
"It's very frustrating, and the key is that we got to be able to get these folks, we got to have the manpower to go out and get these folks and arrest them for things before they commit murder, not arrest them after they commit murder. And that takes staffing," Rutherford said.
The sheriff complained about continual public safety cuts. He said he's down 147 police officers and another 92 community service officers. And as lawmakers consider the next budget, it looks like his office might get cut again.
"Public safety is a No. 1 priority," City Council President Bill Gulliford said. "We have to look at that as being the most important service we provide to the community, and it really is."
Gulliford said the mayor's proposed budget calls for a 14-percent cut across the board. The councilman said that's not a good idea when people's lives are at risk. He's going to fight for more funding in the budget due in October, but said that's only part of the solution.
"I think we've got to take a hard look at that," Gulliford said. "Does it solve the problems like we saw with the horrific tragedy this weekend? No, I think it suppresses it some, but I think as a community we've got to come up with a better solution than just putting some more police officers on the street."
Mayor Alvin Brown responded to this weekend's tragedy. His office released a statement, saying, "Mayor Brown pledges his support in finding the criminals responsible and bringing them swiftly to justice. He will continue his efforts to fight the causes of crime."
The family of a girl killed in a similar crime is also speaking out. Eight-year-old Dreshawna Davis (pictured, below) was killed in 2006 when three men opened fire into her Northwest Jacksonville home. Police said they were targeting her uncle as revenge.
Dreshawna was watching a movie with her cousins when a barrage of bullets peppered her home. The girl's grandmother remembers it like it was yesterday.
"She was watching 'The Cat in the Hat,' her and her two cousins were watching 'The Cat in the Hat,' and I admire her the way she did that when the bullets started. She just put her whole body over them. She protected her two cousins," said Carlas Washington. "And I think that was so sweet of her to do that."
Dreshawna's family said every time a child is killed, they hurt. But what happened this weekend is especially painful because it appears so similar to what happened to them. Rasheem, Tajuan and Terrell Dubose fired more than two-dozen shots into Dreshawna's home to get revenge on her uncle. Rasheem was sentenced to death, his brothers to life in prison.
Shelton's mom believes her home was targeted by someone hell-bent on revenge, upset at a woman who used to live there.
Now as police search for clues in the latest crime, these families are both part of a fraternity that no one wants to be in -- losing young girls to senseless violence.
"It's got to stop. This madness has got to stop," Washington said. "All this revenge and all. Revenge in another way. Just put the guns down. It's not worth it."
"(I'm) very emotional. I was crying and everything," said Andre Washington, Dreshawna's father. "Every time I see a child die, it always reflects back on what went down with my daughter."
According to Channel 4 crime statistics in years past, 2006 was a deadly year. By this time of year there had been 79 homicides in Jacksonville and then in 2007 the worst year in recent memory things got worse. By august 12th there had been 91 homicides. Compare that to this year where it seems like we've heard about murder after murder this summer, we're only at 65 homicides, but that includes 16 people killed in the past month.
Channel 4' crime analyst Ken Jefferson says it's a lot, but Jacksonville has dealt with crime like this before.
"I can remember Dreshawna Davis as well as Shenice Holmes. I can remember the outcry of the city," Jefferson said. "You saw a drop in violent crime at that time because they had the resources to deploy, staffing to put out and it did make a difference at that time."
As far as police staffing in the city right now, Sheriff John Rutherford points to budget cuts as a reason why it's hard for police to flood high crime areas and deter crime.
Jacksonville is broken up into 6 police zones. This happened in zone 5 where there are 179 officers patrolling the streets in total. It's the third most patrolled in the city, following zone 4 which is Southwest Jacksonville and zone 3 which is the Southeast part of the city. Jefferson says Saturday's violence isn't all about manpower.
"You've got a pocket of town where a lot of these violent crimes are happening.. but in last month it's been spread out for the most part."
Anyone with any information about the killing of Shelton is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 866-845-TIPS.