Deadly shootings involving juveniles are up in Durham, mom of slain teen says ‘we must do better’

North Carolina

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – As 2021 comes to a close, five juveniles have been shot and killed in Durham, according to the latest data from Durham police. 

That’s up from the four juveniles shot and killed last year. 

According to police data, so far this year 25 juveniles, ages 1-17 have been shot from January through November of this year. But since then, CBS 17 has reported on at least seven more juveniles who have been shot in the month of December. 

The overall number of juveniles shot this year is slightly down from last year when 47 juveniles were shot in 2020. 

This year, most juvenile shooting victims are 16- and 17-year-olds where 18 individuals were shot, according to police data. Six children ages 6-15 were shot and 1 child between the ages of 1-5 was shot. 

So what is behind some of these shootings involving juveniles and what needs to be done to stop them? 

Ian Wells, 15, was shot on April 3 at a gas station on Alston Avenue just before midnight. He was taken to the hospital where he later died. 

Ian’s mom, Karen Wells, remembers her son as a bright and bubbly teenager who never met a stranger.  

“He was a jokester. He was loved by so many people,” Wells said. “I was just blessed to have him in my life for the time that I did.” 

Wells said when she got the call her son had been shot, she was in disbelief. 

“That was one of my worst nightmares that I would get a call,” Wells said. “That’s a call that no parent wants to receive.” 

According to warrants, Ian Wells had gone to meet up with another juvenile to buy a magazine for a gun. The warrant said the suspects attempted to steal his gun. That’s when he was shot. 

Wells said she did not know her son had gone to purchase a magazine for a gun. 

“That hurt to know that, because I did not know he was doing that,” Well said. “The appropriate people need to be held accountable for the part they have played, which includes legislators, guardians, parents, and that includes myself. We, as a community, have to do better.”

CBS 17 reached out to Durham police to find out what is behind most of the shootings involving juveniles. Police have not yet responded.

According to some stories CBS 17 has covered this year, in at least two separate incidents an 11-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl were struck by stray bullets while sleeping in their beds. Both children were treated for non-life-threatening injuries and survived. 

In other shootings, like the deadly shooting on Mathison Street on Dec. 13, six individuals ages 12-19 were shot while riding in a stolen SUV around 3 a.m. 

Police have not released details yet about what led up to the shooting or a possible motive, but they have said that is not a random incident. 

Wells said that as a single mother, she has sought help with raising her older sons in the past because she wanted to make sure they stayed out of trouble. 

But she said there seems to be a lack of preventative programs for young people in the Durham area. 

“There needs to be programs in place. Preventative measures is the key,” Wells said. “This is the difference between life or death, incarceration, or being a model citizen.” 

In recent weeks, Durham Mayor Elaine O’Neal has said that it will take the entire community to help curb the gun violence in the community. 

She has called on businesses to offer internships to young people and for folks in the community to volunteer 2.5 to 5 hours a week of community service outside of their usual circles. 

O’Neal has also said that the city is working on a program that will keep track of youth in Durham and help them get access to mentoring and mental health services. 

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