If it feels like more children are getting shot, we can tell you the feeling is true

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The data from the police prove it.

Compared to years over the past decade, this year the number of children 18 and under who have been shot and killed has doubled and sometimes tripled. Monday, at a remembrance vigil for a 17-year-old murdered in June, a 12-year-old and 16-year-old were shot.

Two weeks ago, a 12-year-old was murdered on a sidewalk. This year, the number of homicide victims 18 and under is eight. Two years ago it was three. Five years ago it was one. Ten years ago, four.

Brean: “Why do you think so many children are getting shot and killed?”
Dwayne Mahoney, Boys and Girls Club: “Well obviously Berkeley I think it’s a complicated question and reason but I think the biggest problem is the access to, the easy access to firearms these days.”

When it comes to guns, I have done a number of stories asking: where do the guns come from? The police say the data belongs to the ATF. The ATF says it’s barred from sharing it. The city is working on a gun trace data report. It’s due out in the spring.

This year, the number of children 18 and under shot is 54. In 2020 it was 35. Five years ago, 18. A decade ago, 25.

“Can you believe the number of young people getting shot? Another 12-year-old,” I asked one of the people who lives in the Rochester Housing Authority neighborhood where the 12-year-old girl was shot.

“It’s awful,” she said.

The women in the neighborhood are scared for their grandchildren.

Brean: “What the heck is going on?”
Mercedes Vasquez-Simmons, Latino Youth Development Center: “Again I think we’ve reached a certain level where there isn’t respect for life. You know, kids were off limits. Elderly people were off limits. Now there are no limits. It’s anything can go in this city because now the gangs have taken over.”

For parents, the level of violence against children makes for sleepless nights and anxious days.

Brean: “What keeps you up at night?
Kevan Sheppard, father of four: “Uh, a little bit of everything.”

Kevan Sheppard is the father of four, ages five to 13.

“You basically want to make sure everybody around you are safe and taken care of but at the same time you’re always worried about those that’s not,” he said.

RPD says 200-300 people are responsible for most of the violent crimes. The rule of thumb is one percent of the population of the city is involved in crime. Generally speaking, the top 10 percent of that one percent is involved in and responsible for violent crime.

“So if you do the math on that, Rochester’s got about 200,000 people,” RPD Capt. Sam Lucyshyn said. “The top 1% would be 2,000 and therefore the top 10% of that would be 200 people. So if you focus on the most violent people and the most violent places, that can help you reduce gun violence and that’s our strategy here.”

In July we had 50 shootings in the city. In September — 34. In November — 17.

Brean: “Do you worry that the violence we see in the city can affect your children?”
Kevan Sheppard, father of four: “Yeah, absolutely. The violence we see today is something I haven’t seen in a long time.”
Brean: “Do you talk to your kids about it?”
Sheppard: “Oh all the time. All the time.”

“I think it’s extremely important that you have a really good relationship with them and not just them but you want to know who your kids’ friends are, you want to know who your kids’ friends’ parents are,” Sheppard said. “It’s important that everybody understands that — you care.”