Community leaders address recent spike in youth violence

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind (JAN. 21, 2015)–A pre-teen boy accused of robbing a CVS store is one of the latest crimes committed by one of the youngest members of our community.

Police say the child, believed to be 10 to 13 years old, walked into the store, handed the pharmacist a note demanding powerful prescription pills and threatened to kill everyone if the employee called for help.

“Look at that list, an 11-year-old didn’t write that, somebody encouraged him to do that,” said youth pastor Denell Howard, Hovey Street Church of Christ.

Howard and police believe it’s likely that the child was forced to rob the pharmacy by an adult.

“They mentally sell them on dreams of cash and women and money and power and strength,” said Howard.

Howard spends time each week visiting and mentoring juveniles who are incarcerated.

“The young men I meet have no idea what it’s like to be locked away in prison but believe that they can do it,” said Howard.

Sunday, he took his message to the MLK Holiday Weekend lock-in, an annual event that gives young people a place to go.

While thousands of kids were inside the lock-in, 13-year-old Ashton Harting wasn’t there. He snuck out of his mother’s home and was shot and killed on the east side of Indianapolis early Monday morning.

“Those kids that were inside and heard the news of a 13-year-old being murdered outside–maybe that lock-in changed their lives,” said Howard.

Wednesday, a student aboard a Beech Grove School bus was reportedly carrying a gun, however, it turned out to be fake.

“We have got to stop acting like this problem just happened, like all of the sudden kids are just going crazy. This is a pattern of behavior,” said Howard.

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