TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — “It’s definitely unsettling,” said Benjamin Ward as he walked through Curtis Hixon Park with his 1-year-old daughter.
Ward was surprised to hear the family-friendly spot in downtown Tampa was the scene of a shooting just days prior.
“Anytime there are children involved in a shooting, it hits close to home,” he said.”
Alexis Boatwright brought her to the children’s museum nearby Thursday afternoon.
“[I] try to teach them about how there’s bad people around and what to look for and stuff,” she said.
She’s having to teach her young children new lessons due to a rise in teen gun violence.
“My little brother lost one of his friends to gun violence back in November,” she said. “He was 17.”
Wednesday night, Tampa police made an arrest for yet another case of teen gun violence.
“There’s 1,000 of us and there’s 400,000 community members in Tampa,” said Interim Tampa Police Chief Lee Bercaw. “We need everybody’s help.”
Tampa police say it all started just after 8:45 p.m. Sunday when the 13-year-old suspect got into a fight with a 16-year-old.
Five to six more teens jumped in and began hitting and kicking the 16-year-old victim while the 13-year-old pulled out a gun and shot him.
Now, that 13-year-old is behind bars for the crime.
“Obviously, we don’t want a teen to be in that situation,” Bercaw said. “To make a decision like this, that teenager, that suspect, made a decision and their life is going to be changed forever.”
Ward’s advice as a parent here in Tampa Bay? If you see something, say something.
“I just try to encourage people to watch out as well and not be a part of the problem,” Ward said.
There is an ongoing investigation into how the 13-year-old was able to obtain the firearm.