Jacksonville, FL — A young boy, 7, killed in the crossfire of a shoot out Sunday night was the fifth minor shot in 11 days in Jacksonville, authorities said.
According to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, Tashawn Gallon was playing in the yard in front of a home when an SUV drove up and one of the occupants inside started shooting. Authorities said a number of people in the yard returned fire.
Tashawn and a 23-year-old man were hit in the crossfire. Police said Tashawn later succumbed to his wounds and was pronounced dead at the hospital.
“They didn’t hesitate to recklessly turn our streets into a war zone,” Mayor Lenny Curry said in a tweet about the shooting, which was the fifth of a child under 18 in less than two weeks.
An 11-year-old, a 13-year-old, a 15-year-old and a 17-year-old all survived after being struck by gunfire in three separate incidents across the city.
“These shootings need to stop,” JSO Assistant Chief Scott Dingee said during a press conference announcing Tashawn’s death. “They are unacceptable. Murders and shootings are unacceptable, but when you have children that can’t play in their front yards, it’s unbelievable to me.”
The 15-year-old was struck in the neck by a bullet while riding his bike in the Woodstock neighborhood.
He’s expected to recover, but his friend said the shooting death of Tashawn is “why I stay inside unless I’m going to school.”
Just under two weeks before Tashawn was killed, a 13-year-old and an 11-year-old were shot while they were playing catch with a football. Officers said they were wounded in a drive-by shooting, though they were likely not the intended targets.
Both boys are expected to recover.
Neighbor Ahde Bandele told News4Jax he heard the gunshots that hit the two boys and instructed everyone to get down when he realized what was going on. He said he helped the father of one of the boys bring the wounded child into his home and lay him on the floor.
“I told him, ‘Go check on the rest of the kids. I got him,’” Bandele recalled, saying he tried to get the boy to tell him where he had been shot. “He was hysterically crying, naturally. He was scared to death.”
Bandele said the boy was hit in the leg.
Bandele said one of the boys who was wounded is his landlord’s son, who put a basketball hoop up close by that’s open to everyone in the community. He said kids need more parks and recreation centers in the neighborhood to keep their minds busy.
“We have bikes for the kids to ride on. We bring a television out so people who don’t have television can watch the football games, basketball games, different things. We’re trying to make it like a community, so if they won’t give us a recreation center, we have to do it ourselves,” Bandele said. “That’s what we’re trying to do here. We’re trying to give some type of option other than listening to destructive rap songs or playing games like Grand Theft Auto.”
In another shooting incident, a 17-year-old was struck multiple times Thursday afternoon while walking on a sidewalk next to an elementary school, according to police. A bullet busted one of the school’s front office windows, but no one inside was injured.