ATLANTA — There has been an alarming rise in violent crime in Atlanta over the past month.
Atlanta police say murders are up 86% over 28 days last month compared to the same time last year.
There is also a 22% rise in aggravated assaults and a 14% increase in burglaries.
Channel 2′s Michael Seiden spoke with the mother of a murdered teen who has a strong message for everyone to hear.
“It was 6:02 p.m. I get the phone call from my oldest son telling me that my baby had been shot. So my whole body just dropped,” LaTanya Taylor said, describing the feeling of losing a child to senseless gun violence. “I’m tired of it. You know what I’m saying? It’s sad because it’s Black-on-Black crime, and innocent people are losing their lives.”
Taylor said son Semaj Jones, 17, was a fun-loving and kindhearted teen who planned to graduate from high school next spring and then enlist in the military.
Jones was killed in a shooting in Atlanta’s Edgewood neighborhood. Witnesses who heard the shots reported seeing a black pickup truck speeding away from the scene.
By the time the gunfire cleared, Jones and Christopher Weaver, 25, were dead. Five others were also injured in the shooting.
“It hurts me to my soul. I have an 11-year-old daughter, and that was her best friend. I have sit up here and look at her, and she says, ‘Why they have to take my best friend?’” Taylor said.
Taylor told Seiden the bullets were not meant for her son, who was attending a friend’s barbecue.
Sadly, his story is not unique.
Last month, the city of Atlanta saw its most violent month of the years. Data shows from May 31 to June 20, police investigated 75 shootings, including 17 homicides.
City Councilman Antonia Brown believes some people see the protests and tensions with police as an opportunity to commit crime.
“It’s just unfortunate that there are individuals that are taking advantage of the opportunity of this divide between police and community, and you have incidents like this that are happening,” Brown said.
Brown said the deadly shootings need to stop.
“The reality is a death is a death and a life is a life. And this is happening too much in our city,” Brown said.
Despite low morale and sickouts, Atlanta officers are still protecting and serving their communities.
On Wednesday, Atlanta police released body camera footage showing the moment police arrested a murder suspect.
Nicholas Fonseca is now in the Fulton County Jail, charged in the June 28 deadly shooting of Andrew Scott Callahan, 37.
Channel 2 Action News contacted Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and interim police Chief Rodney Bryant for comments on this story.
The mayor and chief said they will respond to the crime statistic during the city council meeting Thursday morning.
For Taylor, she told Seiden that she’s worried about the bloody toll the violence has taken on the community and believes it will only get worse unless parents get involved.
“Keep your kids close. Talk to your kids. Put the guns down, just put the guns down,” Taylor said. “My heart is just empty.”
When Seiden asked police who they believe is behind the violence, the department did not provide an official statement to him, but several of his sources told Seiden that most of the shootings are gang-related or in retaliation from something that happened in the past.
Police are still searching for the person who shot and killed Jones. Anyone with information on that case is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 404-577-8477.
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