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Teenager shot in Northwest Jacksonville

Police: 15-year-old was with older brother

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 15-year-old boy was shot in Northwest Jacksonville late Thursday night and was in critical condition at the hospital.

The shooting started at the Sophia Street apartments, but the teen was found lying in the grass in front of a home on Mackinaw Street.

The teen was shot in the torso and taken to the UF Health trauma center for surgery.

Police responded to a call about gunshots at Commonwealth Avenue and Huron Street shortly before 11 p.m. When they arrived, they found the teen shot.

The victim was with his 18-year-old brother, who was not injured. The brothers' names have not been released.

"At this time we are speaking to the brother to determine what exactly occurred," said Sgt. Michael Paul with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

Police are talking to people who heard the gunshots but said only the brother saw what happened.

They don't have a lot to go on. They don't even know if the shooter is a man or woman.

Police said the suspect was wearing all black. But some neighbors said they have security cameras, and that JSO took copies of those to look at.

The neighbors said they're fed up with the violence among teens and said something needs to be done to stop it. A lot of them said they don't feel safe letting their kids play outside alone.

"It feels terrible, and it's just a tragedy," Vickie Singleton said.

Singleton, who lives just houses down from where the 15-year-old was shot, said she's ready to move.

She's a mother and grandmother of several children and fears for their safety. She's not alone. Joycelyn, who did not give her last name, moved her children out of the Moncrief area hoping they'd be safer. Now she's afraid to even let them outside.

"I had my back door open, I was enjoying my birthday and I Just heard gunshots," Joycelyn said. "Immediately I closed my door because I thought about my kids. I heard screaming. I heard a woman hollering. I'm a concerned mother. I'm in the community and I just walked around the corner to see what was going on and I walked back. Even though it's not my business, because my kids come outside on that back patio, it concerns me because a bullet doesn't have a name on it."

One bullet struck the trunk of a Dodge Neon. Another ripped through the side of a house. No one inside the home was injured.

Investigators are trying to determine why the brothers were in the area, noting that it's spring break.

"Kids are out of school. They don't have to get up at a certain time. You know, they're out in the neighborhood. The problem is, at this point, we have a lot of violence with, you know, young kids these days," said Paul.

Joycelyn said it's important to keep kids busy during holidays to keep them out of trouble.

"You want to keep their brain working. You want to make sure they eat a healthy breakfast. You want to make sure they're picking up a book every day. We need more in the community. We really do. We need more people getting involved. We need more people taking it serious. Our kids really are the future," she said.

News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said whoever takes over as sheriff for JSO will need to address the growing problem of teen violence. He said the department needs to start a community policing program.

"That involves getting out of the car, meeting the people, shaking hands with them for them to get to know the police officers by name on a personal basis," Smith said. "That way, they feel comfortable with police and the police department, and they can pass that down to their kids. Letting them know they have to stop doing, what's going on, feel comfortable communicating and talking with police."

Smith said it's also a good idea for kids to get involved in community programs or sporting activities when school is out to keep them out of trouble.