BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — In Birmingham and cities across the nation, gun violence is killing children at an alarming rate.
“It’s like we fighting an uphill battle,” said Birmingham mother Lynda Crowder. Her 16-year-old son, Todd Lorenzo Johnson Jr. was shot and killed in a double-homicide in Ensley back in February.
“I can’t even reflect on the good memories because I gotta come to the realization that he gone, and I’m just not ready to do that, he was my baby,” Crowder told CBS 42.
According to Birmingham Police, seven children under the age of 18 were killed by gunfire in 2021. The numbers for 2022 so far, are even more staggering. Six children were murdered in the first three months alone.
“Over the last 20 years we’ve had a three time, nearly three times increase of firearm injury occurrence,” said UAB Pediatric Emergency Medicine Fellow Dr. Eric Jorge.
Him and his team get the calls when a child is shot, and immediately start preparing, knowing the chances of survival are slim.
“A lot of kids will end up being permanently disabled, and that’s even if they survive,” he explained. “Firearm injuries have such a high mortality that a lot of kids don’t survive.”
In 2020, Children’s of Alabama treated 66 children for firearm injuries. Then in 2021, that number rose sharply, to 82. According to the hospital, as of March, 16 children were admitted for gunshot wounds so far this year.
It’s a problem Jefferson County District Attorney Danny Carr is trying to combat from multiple angles.
“I firmly believe you can’t arrest your way out of this crime epidemic, you can’t prosecute your way out of it,” he said. “What you have to do is change the trajectory of people’s lives.”
Carr told CBS 42 the DA’s office works with schools and runs other programs aimed at helping those in high risk areas.
“One of the biggest trends is that younger people are committing crimes when it relates to guns,” Carr explained.
For mothers like Crowder, the help is coming too late. She said the continuing crime, makes healing even more difficult.
“It’s still going on,” she said. “Right after my baby another baby, 16 years old.”
The City of Birmingham urges members of the public to call crime stoppers at 205-254-7777 if you have any information on shootings in Birmingham.