Two children were killed in the St. Louis area on Thursday night. This brings the number of young people who have died in violence and gun-related activities in and around the city in the past year to 23, NBC News reports.
Just before noon on Thursday, a 3-year-old boy died after allegedly having found a gun and shooting himself with it.
Later that day, a 13-year-old boy was shot and killed, and an 18-year-old suspect was taken into custody, in what police say was not a "random act." Sgt. Benjamin Granda, of the St. Louis County police, said via The St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the boy, who was walking through an apartment complex, was the target of the shooting. The incident allegedly stemmed from an earlier dispute.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the Missouri city and its suburbs are in the middle of an epidemic of gun violence that has been claiming the lives of children and teenagers. And their stories are heartbreaking.
Eight-year-old Jurnee Thompson, for example, died at a football jamboree she'd attended with her family. A brawl broke out between groups of students and their families, about 100 people in total, and shots were being fired. One of the bullets struck and killed the young girl.
Seven-year-old Xavier Usanga was playing in front of his house when two men began arguing over a basketball game nearby. The argument escalated into gunfire, and Xavier was struck and killed by a stray bullet. Additionally, an 18-year-old man was critically injured in the shooting.
Kayden Johnson and his mother were killed by an intruder who broke into their home. Kennedi Powell died in a drive-by shooting, as did Eddie Hill. The list goes on.
Making matters worse, say authorities, is the fact that few criminal charges have been issued in relation to any of the shootings. Police say that neighbors and witnesses are reluctant to talk to the police because they fear retaliation.
St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden doesn't brook that attitude.
"What would happen to little children if you don't [help catch the shooters]?" he said.
Granada, for his part, told reporters that the epidemic of children dying in violence is taking a toll on the community, as well as law enforcement officials in and around the city.
"These types of things wear on the community, and they're a very heavy burden to the officers that are here, doing the best they can," he said.