People who work with teenagers don’t understand why gun violence is on the rise again. In less than six months, the number of teen deaths in Nashville has already matched the death toll for all of last year.
Stratford High School in East Nashville serves low-income communities like Cayce Homes. They now have a crisis management team on standby after losing several students.
Michael Steele, Stratford's principal, says the school has noticed a change this year. "In the last five or six years we haven’t experienced this much violence, especially from that part of town," he said.
"We are a little confused as to why the violence has picked up so much, especially with regard to shootings.”
Nashville has been trying to reduce teen violence for years. After a record-breaking 17 deaths were reported in 2015, the city stepped up its outreach efforts.
Mayor Megan Berry organized teen summits and developed programs like Operation NOW, which matches students with paid internships and summer jobs. Metro Police and community organizers matched the effort.
It seemed to work. Last year, the number of teen gun deaths was reduced almost in half, down to 10. But in the first half of 2017, nine teenagers have already been gunned down and one has been stabbed to death.
The latest victim is 14-year-old Clayton Gangji, who died Saturday morning. He was fatally wounded as he sat in a parked SUV at a ball field in Old Hickory. His friend claims the gun accidentally discharged.
Just two days prior, two other teens died on the same day. Ahmad Osborne of Joelton was killed at Glastonbury Woods Apartments near the airport. The 18-year-old was shot in the face and body in what was described as a drug deal "gone bad." His killer has not been identified.
Only twelve hours before, 19-year-old Joshua Taylor died in a parking lot behind an auto shop in southeast Nashville after being stabbed in the neck.
Teenagers seem to be doing some of the killing too. According to police statistics, more than a quarter of all murder suspects that have been identified this year are 19 or younger.