CRIMETRACKER: Nearly 200 juveniles arrested in New Orleans
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - For nearly two decades, Coach Robert Hooks’ volunteers his time and his heart to the kids of New Orleans, coaching them in sports and in life. Lately, he admits he’s losing more than winning.
“I’ve lost three players within one year. Getting close to a child and watching them grow into young men is hard to lose a child. You feel like it’s your child,” says Hooks.
14-year-old Ja’Mere Alfred was gunned down in New Orleans East on Christmas Day.
“Ja’Mere was an outstanding drummer. He was just gifted,” says Hooks.
Last month, 16-year-old K’ron Hoskins was shot alongside another teen in Little Woods. Hoskins lost his life.
“That’s why I wear this shirt. It says long live K-2. That was one of the my best wide receivers. When I got the call that he was murdered, I just broke down in tears. I couldn’t hide it. I couldn’t hold it. It really hit me,” says Hooks.
Then a week later, police found another of Coach Hooks’ players, 14-year-old Joel Nicholas was shot multiple times lying on the playground at A.L. Davis Park.
“I’d been coaching Joel since he was 10-years-old. He was a hell of an athlete. He was very good,” says Hooks.
Police say a 15-year-old shot and killed Nichols.
“We’ve seen a significant increase in juvenile crime,” says Chief Shaun Ferguson.
New Orleans Police Chief Shaun Ferguson admits juvenile crime takes a toll on the community.
“A 15-year-old is arrested for the murder of a 14-year-old. The day prior, we had a 15-year-old arrested for a carjacking in which a one year old infant was in the back of that vehicle,” says Chief Ferguson.
When seven teens, between the ages of 13 and 17-years-old, accused of carjacking a man, led police on a chase and then crashed the stolen truck in a St. Claude neighborhood, Ferguson’s level of frustration was evident.
“Once again, we’re speaking about juveniles being involved in violent crimes,” says Ferguson.
FOX 8 discovered since January 1st of this year, through mid-April, the NOPD has arrested 196 kids, some of them accused repeat offenders.
“I would say maybe 40 percent of them have been arrested before, if not more,” says Chief Ferguson.
The crimes they’re accused of range from theft to murder.
42 teens were arrested for possession of a stolen vehicle. 14 were arrested for armed robbery. Seven juveniles were arrested for 2nd degree battery and four were arrested for murder.
“They’re bold and more brazen. There is this underlining feeling that there are no consequences to their actions,” says Ferguson.
Ferguson says young offenders no longer fear arrest. Once arrested, officers bring the juveniles to the Juvenile Justice Intervention Center. FOX 8 received a daily population count at the facility.
According to the data, between January 11th and April 15th, 46 juveniles were admitted to the facility.
It’s unclear, though, who those juveniles are and what they’re accused of.
“We’ve heard it. I’ve heard the stories from others in the criminal justice system where the kids will tell the, hey, you can’t tell me anything. I’m not worried about what you’re saying because I won’t be in here long. They’re going to let them right back out, so they have that mindset that they will not be held accountable,” says Ferguson.
Of the 196 arrested kids, 45 of them were between the ages of 11 and 14-years-old.
“I always say this. I’m not pushing for incarceration, but there has to be some resources or services that can be mandated for these kids and their parents to make sure they’re being held accountable,” says Ferguson.
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