JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The lives of more than a dozen teenage boys and young men have ended in violence this year in Jacksonville, according to News4Jax records.
Only one arrest has been made in those cases, and one of the homicides was ruled justifiable.
Two teenagers shot and killed this month brought the total number of teens killed in Jacksonville since May to 15. Anti-crime advocates point out that teenagers are dying all over the city, not just in one part of town.
Corey Donald II, 17, was found shot to death Dec. 5 in a car on Trenton Drive in Northwest Jacksonville, and Diego Morales Perez, 16, was fatally wounded Dec. 14 in a double shooting in the Baymeadows area.
Donald's grandmother said the teen was a Mandarin High School student who loved the Gators and the Jacksonville Giants and wanted to become a barber. Carol Smith said Donald had just started school for the profession and traveled around cutting hair to make extra money.
“You know, all grandmothers think their kids are wonderful. He and I had a wonderful relationship based on faith and doing the right thing,” Smith said.
Smith said the pews were filled last weekend at her Northwest Jacksonville church as family and friends said goodbye to Donald.
“He had a lot of friends, and it was wonderful to see the church so full of young people. I just hope they’ll take the message the pastor preached to heart,” Smith said. “I pray for my family, and I’m praying for everyone else. That’s all we can do. Death is a part of living. We have to pray ourselves up and keep going.”
Investigators have no suspects in Donald's murder.
Donald Foy, a well-known anti-crime advocate who walks Jacksonville’s streets regularly for marches with the group MAD DADS, said in many of these cases, teens are dying in revenge shootings. All of the teen homicides this year involve male victims.
Foy said City Hall, police and community groups are doing a lot of intervention programs on Jacksonville’s Northside to work with youth but added that the programs need to spread out to other parts of town also touched with the horror of teenage violence.
“Nothing is being done to work with the teenagers on the Westside. Everything they’re doing is just geared toward the Northside. But what about the Eastside where they had the six people shot?” Foy said, referring to a mass shooting in October that left one man dead. “What about the Southside?”
Foy's group, the Jacksonville chapter of Men Against Destruction Defending Against Drugs and Social Disorder, tries to counter gang violence and the culture of silence that prevents arrests.
The 15 teens killed include an 18-year-old shot by a Jacksonville police officer Dec. 12, and a 19-year-old shot and killed outside the Raines High School football stadium after a game in August. A 16-year-old was charged in the Raines shooting.
Three teens were also fatally shot June 5 in a drive-by on Town Center Parkway that left another victim wounded.
Interactive map of teen homicides in 2018
Click on a point on the map to see the name, age, location and details for each homicide. Photos were included, where available.