Jacksonville’s epidemic of gun violence in 2016 (106 homicides thus far) has been bookended in 2016 by the deaths of two of the youngest, most innocent victims imaginable.
In January on Jacksonville’s Eastside, 22-month-old Aiden McClendon was gunned down as the toddler sat in a car with relatives.
Another car drove by, and bullets sprayed the car the child was in, as well as a house.
Little Aiden was the only one hit, and died soon after. Lenny Curry, who couldn’t hide his raw emotion in talking about the scene, has said that was the toughest thing he had to deal with thus far as Jacksonville mayor.
Now, incredibly, there is even a younger victim of violent crime for the city to mourn: Tedashi Williams, an 11-month-old baby shot near a hotbed of violent crime — the Cleveland Arms apartments — Sunday night.
Two adult victims, including the baby’s mother, also were killed in the shooting. Two more were wounded. But the killing of a child under the age of one was what made this murder, in one of the most violent neighborhoods in the city, go from local to national news.
On Monday afternoon, Mayor Curry, Sheriff Mike Williams, and district Councilman Reggie Brown came together to discuss Jacksonville’s youngest homicide victim this year — a crime that shocked the collective conscience, and raised other questions as well.
Curry referred to the act of “senseless violence,” describing an “11-month-old who was killed at a time when there were a bunch of other shootings.”
“I’m mad as hell,” Curry said, and “this has to stop.”
To that end, Curry cited the crime-prevention and crime-fighting techniques that have been part of his public safety platform: added and improved equipment, additional manpower, and the Jacksonville Journey.
“We are going to fight this together,” Curry said.
Curry was asked about this wave of weekend violence in the light of other heinous acts