CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Despite an announcement from state officials last week that juveniles are committing fewer crimes, the good news is tempered by a spate of high-profile teen killings in Mecklenburg County during the past seven months, an anti-violence advocate said.
The homicides include a pregnant 17-year-old killed girl in a northern Charlotte park, a 13-year-old gunned down on a Charlotte street at 1 a.m., and a football player beaten, shot and killed because, his family says, he wouldn’t tell another teen his name.
On Friday, the N.C. Attorney General announced that the crime rate among youths had dropped significantly over the past five years. This mirrors drops in crime among all age groups that have been happening – statewide and in Mecklenburg – year over year.
Statewide, the number of teens younger than 16 charged with violent crimes has dropped by nearly 37 percent since 2007. Property crime dropped 4.5 percent during that period. And arrests among teens younger than 16 was down about 40 percent.
Judy Williams, the founder of Mothers of Murdered Offspring, said police, parents and city leaders shouldn’t be complacent about those numbers. Last week, she said, she went to four memorials or funerals, all for people 25 or younger.
Included among the memorials, a service for Kydaryune “K.C.” Curry, a junior at Charlotte United Christian Academy in south Charlotte. He was killed, family and police said, because he would not give his name to another teen, who felt disrespected.
The gathered said they mourned the six lives taken – Curry’s and the five teens who mobilized to beat and shoot him. Search warrants identified the shooter as a 16-year-old. The teens could face life in prison if convicted. Two could face the death penalty.
“We’re not doing a phenomenal job, because we’re still losing young people, but I think we’re doing better,” Williams said. “The only thing we can do is seize those opportunities to reach people, which may hopefully have some bearing on the killings.”