JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A least one arrest has been made after two teens were robbed at gunpoint while walking to school two weeks ago, police said.
The students were walking separately, but both incidents happened in the same area on Ribault Scenic Drive just a short distance from Ribault High School. There are also two other schools just a short distance away.
Malik Williams, 19 (pictured below), was arrested and charged with two counts of armed robbery. Both teens said a group of three men attempted to rob them of their cellphones. The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is still looking for two other people they believe may also have been involved in the robberies.
Parents are meeting Monday night at Ribault High to address school zones and police patrols in the area. At least one School Board representative will be there, along with Save Our Sons founder Pastor John Guns.
The parents said their No. 1 goal is to figure out how everyone can help make the busy area safer for children.
"I could have lost my child, behind a cellphone and lack of supervision. It's really difficult for me," the mother of one of the victims told News4Jax. Because some suspects are still at large, News4Jax is not naming the students or their parents.
The victim's mother said her morning routine has changed and her son has been having nightmares.
"I've been driving him every morning and picking him up in the afternoon," she said. "I will not let him walk."
She said her son is also seeing a counselor, which has helped, but she said more needs to be done to keep kids walking to and from school safe.
"We can't stop all crime, but we can deter it," she said. "If people know we're watching out for our children, it will go away."
She said she received a phone call from Mayor Lenny Curry, who offered his sympathy and support. She said now she hopes her message will be heard by the School Board.
"When you come to school you're supposed to feel safe, not scared," she said.
She said she'd like to see the school zone expanded to include more streets where kids walk to and from school. She'd also like to see an increased police presence in the area before and after school hours.
"When it comes to our children's safety, all hands on deck," said a community activist who helped organize the meeting with the School Board. "That's the message we want to send tonight -- every player gear up. Let's play this game, and let's make sure our children are safe to and from school."
The meeting, which is open to the community, begins at 6:30 p.m.
According to the incident report, the three young men suspected in the robberies were last seen in a burgundy Buick with handicapped plates. Anyone with information about who the robbers are is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.