Detroit police say teen gun violence is on the rise

3 teens killed in Detroit shootings so far this year

DETROIT – There have been eight teenage victims of gun violence in Detroit just this year.

Three were murder victims and five were non-fatal shooting victims. All of them were between the ages of 13 and 17.

There are also teen offenders, one teen has been identified as a shooting suspect and three are accused of carjackings.

Earlene Griffin lost her daughter, Nataja Boleware, to gun violence. Boleware was shot and killed four months ago.

“I think it’s very senseless, very selfish, very stubborn for someone to take someone’s life,” said Griffin.

Nataja Boleware was delivering food with a friend on Sept. 20, near Lodewyck Street and East Warren Avenue, when someone in a Chrysler 300 pulled up and opened fire. Boleware was shot seven times. She was 19 years old.

“It’s a moment-by-moment struggle,” Griffin said. “But it needs to stop.”

Donate: A GoFundMe page has been created for the family of Nataja Boleware

Detroit Police Chief James White on teen gun violence

Detroit Police Chief James White said the amount of teen offenders climbed from 37 in 2021 to 51 in 2022, which was a 38% increase.

“When I look at us, what I lose sleep over every day is the concerning numbers that I’ve been seeing involving juveniles,” said White. “Our offenders went from 37 in 2021 to 51 in 2022, which is a 38% increase.”

This year started with a deadly New Year’s Eve shooting at a hotel party at the Hawthorne Suites in Detroit. A 15-year-old was shot and another 15-year-old is accused of opening fire.

“He is 15 years old as well and so his life is over,” White said. “He’s going to be charged as an adult.”

White said 2022 saw a 50% uptick in teen victims of homicide and a 130% uptick in teen offenders of homicide.

“You look at our non-fatal shooting victims, 25% uptick, White said. “You look at our non-fatal shooting offenders, a 33% uptick.”

Edmond Butler, 17, was found shot to death in his car last July in Southwest Detroit.

His 17-year-old best friend, Zayer Brooks, confessed to detectives on video that he was the one who shot and killed Butler.

“So many of our kids are making impulse, quick decisions that are driving them, or driving them to do bad things and it’s following them for the rest of their lives,” White said.

White said more talk and attention must start going to the victims.

“We don’t talk about victims,” White said. “We talk more about perpetrators than we talk about victims.”

Griffin said it’s important to remember the families of the victims.

“The families are like broken,” Griffin said. “From myself to my mother to her other grandmother, my other son, my sister, we are no longer the same. It’s like a piece of a puzzle that just come in a box and you can never put the puzzle back together.”

Watch part 2: Teen gun violence a growing issue in Metro Detroit: What experts are saying

About the Authors:

Karen Drew is the anchor of Local 4 News First at 4, weekdays at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. She is also an award-winning investigative reporter.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.