DA's office tries to curb gun violence in Davidson Co. - WSMV News 4

DA's office tries to curb gun violence in Davidson Co.

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Metro police say there have been 130 shootings in Davidson County so far this year. None of them were accidents or suicides.

One of the latest shootings happened Tuesday afternoon in East Nashville. People who live on Sharpe Avenue say they heard gunshots. Some even saw the gunman firing from inside a car.

When Jake Naifeh walked outside to see what was going on, he said he saw a man lying in his front yard screaming for help.

"I heard loud noises, came outside, looked to my right and there's a man with a gunshot wound screaming for help," Naifeh said.

He told Channel 4 he then went inside his home and called police.

That man, 29-year-old Ladarion Smith, had been shot in the foot during an attempted robbery.

Police say Smith was walking through an alley when a man with a gun tried to rob him. Smith struggled with the would-be robber and was shot in the foot.

As Smith tried to run off, he told officers the gunman continued to follow and fire at him.

The Davidson County District Attorney’s office described these type of robberies as part of a troubling trend of callous crimes.

"What we are seeing is an increased pattern where 10 years ago we would see a lot of robberies where they wouldn't kill and shoot the person in the back, when they're not posing a threat to them. Now, we're seeing people rob and shoot people almost for a sport," said Davidson County Assistant District Attorney Jenny Charles. "There is a complete devaluing of human life and there is just a total lack of empathy for a person who is the victim in the situation.”

So far this year, more than 130 people have been shot in non-accidental crimes; 38 have died.

  • In 2016, 83 people were killed in total.
  • In 2015, there were 79 total homicides. 
  • In 2014, there were 41.
  • In 2013, there were 43 homicides.

The homicide rate nearly double from 2013 to 2016, and the DA's offices says more youth are involved on both sides of the crimes.

"We are seeing younger and younger, not only perpetrators, but also we are seeing younger victims over senseless reasons, such as you get in a fight with someone over Facebook. Such as you both want to date the same girl – a misunderstanding that 20 years ago would have been handled over a fistfight is now handled over a firearm," Charles said.

The DA's office has been working to put an end to some of the gun use through a program called Violence Interrupted. It launched about a year ago for gun offenders who get alternate sentences like probation or community service.

"We have people who have been incarcerated themselves so they have moral authority of the people they're speaking to and all of these folks have been able to turn around their lives and do positive things in the community," Charles said.

Charles says many of the gun offenders they see in court are young men who also have narcotics.

"I think a lot of young men have a sense of hopelessness that comes from not having someone in their lives who is a positive influence on them," Charles said. "I think there is a sense of whatever I do, it doesn't matter. I can go to jail, it's not a big deal. I can go to prison, it's not a big deal, because everyone around me has. It's really a sense of hopelessness that at the end of the day we have to combat."

One of the suspects in the Sharpe Avenue shooting is described as a man of unknown race around 5’6” tall, 160 pounds, wearing a ski mask and black clothing. Police say he was in a white SUV, possibly a Jeep Cherokee. It was last seen fleeing the area on McFerrin Avenue. The victim suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

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