21 people shot, 6 fatally, in Jacksonville this month

Family, friends of one victim gather for candlelight vigil on Friday

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office released statistics Friday that give some perspective on the amount of violence taking place in local neighborhoods.

So far this month, 21 people have been shot, an average of more than one shooting a day.

Of those, six people have died. Foul play is suspected in five of those killings.

Family and friends of one of those murder victims gathered Friday for a candlelight vigil at Robert E. Lee High School.

Johnathan Thomas, 16, was shot and killed in a Northwest Jacksonville neighborhood one week ago. His body was found at the end of a driveway on Detaille Drive on July 10.

Thomas' family is heartbroken – and worried that the violence will continue.

"Nobody in this family--we don't go for violence," said Terraca Parker, Thomas' sister. "We lost somebody to violence. We don't want anyone else to lose anybody. We want justice for my brother."

One by one, young teens lit candles arranged in the shape of the initials "JT" on Friday at Lee High. Some wore T-shirts in memory of their friend and loved one.

"It's so crazy. All these shootings and killings and goings-on," Parker said. "This candlelight vigil is for all of his friends to come together and show their respect for him."

The day after Thomas' body was found, 14-year-old James Thomas (no relation) was killed outside a Northwest Jacksonville community center. No arrests have been made in either crime.

"It's so busy out here. We just can't keep up," said AJ Jordan, vice president of anti-crime group MAD DADS. "There's like a shooting every other day in Jacksonville."

Jordan said he's overwhelmed by the rise in violence, and the fear that many will go unsolved.

"It's just the violence in our city," Jordan said. "We just need people to come together and just call Crime Stoppers. It's just that simple. You can call Crime Stoppers. It's 100 percent anonymous. We just need to get these people who are shooting off the streets."

As they wait for answers, members of Johnathan Thomas' grieving family make a plea to the public.

"There is too much violence. What's with your kids; talk to your kids," Park said. "You gotta control your kids, get your child off the streets. There's nothing out here on the streets. Talk to your kids. There ain't nothing but jail and death."

Half of the shootings this month occurred in the same part of town -- Zone 5, which covers mostly Northwest Jacksonville and some of the Westside.

Zone 5 is where the Sheriff's Office in recent months launched Operation Ceasefire, an initiative to curb violence and send a strong message to criminals.

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