NORFOLK, Va. - Gun violence has been a big issue lately in Hampton Roads. Youth-related shootings have been top of mind for many families.
New data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that in 2020, guns were the leading cause of death in U.S. kids and teens.
A report from Johns Hopkins states guns accounted for more deaths in this age group in 2020 than car crashes, cancers or even COVID-19.
For Shana Turner, 2022 feels like 2017.
“I’m not over it, and I don’t think I’ll ever get over it,” Turner said.
“He was my baby, my son. I love him,” Turner said. “He’ll never get to be married. He’ll never get to do anything.”
Shaq’s death has also been hard for Turner's niece, 15-year-old Mayana Brickhouse.
“When I go to sleep, [I hear] gunshots,” Brickhouse told News 3. “I shouldn’t be used to hearing gunshots at my age.”
Meanwhile, Turner has been keeping tabs on recent local gun violence involving kids, including a recent shooting where a 12-year-old Hampton girl was killed.
“It really goes through me. It brings me back because I’m a mother,” Turner said. “To be so young; to lose your life, not even to live to see anything [or] to do anything - it’s very sad.”
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, in 2020, firearm-related injuries became the leading cause of death for people ages 1-19.
From 2019-2020, the relative increase in the rate of firearm-related deaths of all types among kids and adolescents, including homicide, suicide, unintentional and undetermined, was 29.5%. That's more than twice the relative increase in the general population.
“This has been going on for a minute,” Turner said reacting to the statistics. “It’s an epidemic.”
News 3 also reached out to local police departments to see how many shooting-related homicide deaths among people ages 1-19 took places since 2020.
Here are the following responses:
HAMPTON (Total number of homicide victims as a result of a shooting ages 1-19 since 2020)
- 2020: 4
- 2021: 3
- 2022: 3
- Total: 10
- 2020: 4 homicide shooting victims between ages 1-19
- 2021: 7 homicide shooting victims between ages 1-19
- 2022: 1 homicide shooting victim between ages 1-19
- Since 2020: 6
- In 2020, 17 homicides (14 of which were shootings) with 2 juvenile victims
- In 2021, 14 homicides (11 of which were shootings) with 2 juvenile victims
- 3 homicides in 2020 with only 1 victim 19 or younger
- 6 homicides in 2021 with none showing 19 or younger
- Portsmouth provided us with a list of all its homicide victims since 2013. You can find that list here.
- Norfolk Police did not respond to our request for information relating to shooting-related homicide victims ages 1-19 since 2020.
“Your child can be sitting right next to you right now, and he can walk outside or she, and they can be gone,” Turner said. “It’s alarming. It’s scary.”
For Turner, she's been speaking up to help families like hers since her son's death, and believes action and education are vital in helping protect families from being added to statistics.
“You can have a kid, and he can be erased,” Turner said. “We can talk about numbers all day long, but the numbers are climbing. They’re not decreasing. They’re climbing. What are we going to do about it?”