'War zone': 7-year-old was 5th kid shot in 11 days in Jacksonville

11-year-old, 3 teens also wounded by gunfire in last 2 weeks, police say

By Elizabeth Campbell - Reporter, Francine Frazier - Senior web producer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A 7-year-old boy killed in the crossfire of a gun battle Sunday night in front of a Durkeeville home was the fifth juvenile shot in 11 days in Jacksonville, police said.

According to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, Tashawn Gallon was playing in the front yard of a home on Mount Herman Street when an SUV pulled up and someone inside opened fire. Police said multiple people in the yard fired back.

Tashawn and a 23-year-old man were hit in the crossfire. The 7-year-old died at a hospital, police said.

RELATED: Sheriff: 7-year-old boy killed was between drive-by, returned gunfire | Outcry renewed after Jacksonville 7-year-old caught in crossfire

“They didn't hesitate to recklessly turn our streets into a war zone,” Mayor Lenny Curry wrote in tweet about the shooting, which was the fifth of a child under 18 in the last two weeks.

An 11-year-old, a 13-year-old, a 15-year-old and a 17-year-old all survived being hit by gunfire in three separate incidents across the city.

“These shootings need to stop,” JSO Assistant Chief Scott Dingee said during a briefing announcing Tashawn's death. “They are unacceptable. Murders and shootings are unacceptable, but when you have children that can’t play in their front yards, it’s unbelievable to me.”

The 15-year-old was hit in the neck by a bullet while riding his bike in the Woodstock neighborhood. He spoke to News4Jax on Monday, showing our crew the bullet hole in his neck.

He's expected to be OK, but his friend said the shooting death of Tashawn is “why I stay inside unless I'm going to school.”

Less than two weeks before Tashawn was killed, a 13-year-old and an 11-year-old were hit by gunfire in the Mixon Town area while they were playing catch with a football. Police said they were wounded in a drive-by shooting that was likely not targeting them.

Both boys are expected to be OK.

Neighbor Ahde Bandele told News4Jax he heard the gunshots that hit the two boys and told everyone to get down when he realized what was happening. He said he helped the father of one of the boys bring the wounded child into his home and lay him on the floor.

“I told him, 'Go check on the rest of the kids. I got him,'” Bandele recalled, saying he tried to get the boy to tell him where he was hit. “He was hysterically crying, naturally. He was scared to death.”

Bandele said the boy was shot in the leg.

Bandele said one of the boys who was wounded is the son of his landlord, who installed a basketball hoop nearby that's open to anyone in the community to play. He said children need more parks and recreation centers in the neighborhood to keep their minds busy.

“We have bikes for the kids to ride on. We bring a television out so people who don’t have television can watch the football games, basketball games, different things. We're trying to make it like a community, so if they won’t give us a recreation center, we have to do it ourselves,” Bandele said. “That’s what we’re trying to do here. We’re trying to give some type of option other than listening to destructive rap songs or playing games like Grand Theft Auto.”

In another shooting incident, a 17-year-old was hit several times Thursday afternoon while walking on an Arlington sidewalk next to an elementary school, according to police. A bullet shattered a window of the school's front office, but no one inside was hurt.

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