Charlotte teens were involved in more than 100 shootings in 2023
An 8-year-old Charlotte girl was sleeping on her couch this past May when several suspects exited a car and fired into her home. A bullet struck her in the head.
- While Olivia Velez survived, her injuries were life-altering.
- The case is still ongoing. But detectives believe Velez was the collateral damage of Charlotte’s youth gun violence crisis. They suspect a group of teens was targeting the house because of a dispute.
The big picture: Juvenile crime is getting worse in Charlotte, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department officials said Thursday during its end-of-year safety report.
- The greater community is feeling the ripple effect of teen violence. On New Year’s Eve, a family-friendly fireworks show in Uptown turned chaotic after a 19-year-old allegedly shot and injured five people. Eleven minors were arrested for their involvement.
- “Until something changes, we’re going to continue to see our Charlotte citizens preyed upon by a group of juveniles who don’t fear repercussions,” said CMPD major Ryan Butler.
By the numbers: In 2023, juvenile suspects were involved in 108 shootings — a 33% uptick from the previous year, according to CMPD’s report. Shootings with a juvenile victim rose by 18%.
- 414 juveniles were suspects of violent crimes last year, per CMPD’s count.
- More than 1,600 juveniles are accused of property crimes, up 86%.
Zoom out: During her remarks in Charlotte Thursday, Vice President Kamala Harris said one in five Americans has a family member who was killed because of gun violence, WBTV reported.
What they’re saying: Officers say they’re “playing catch and release” with the same teens because of “Raise the Age.” The 2019 law made it so that 16- and 17-year-olds are not automatically charged as adults. CMPD says it is difficult to obtain secure custody orders from the Department of Juvenile Justice.
- Instead of taking suspects to a juvenile detention facility, they’re usually released to their parent or guardian, Butler said.
- In 2023, three young offenders were responsible for more than 120 offenses combined, CMPD says.
Chief Johnny Jennings blamed social media as well.
- Young people are continuing to steal Kias and Hyundais, influenced by a viral TikTok challenge. Juveniles made up more than two-thirds of 1,200 auto theft arrests in 2023.
- “You also see … just how common it is to make videos with guns and cash and drugs,” the chief said. “It almost becomes accepted within our society.”
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