“I hate to say it, but I think it’s cultural,” Jasmine said. “There’s something going on that’s sad. We’re a generation that has to set an example, and here people are acting up, solving things with violence.”
“Shoot first, ask questions later,” a friend added.
Or really, don’t ask questions at all.
The thing that really bothered most of the kids I talked to after school the other day was the sudden nature of the violence. The kids I talked to all said things like “I just saw CJ on the train the day before” or “He was sitting right next to me in class. Right next to me last week.”
And now, he’s gone.
After the fifth killing, Prince George’s County officials formed a task force to try to find a solution to the problem. And it’s a tough one, because the six killings are all unrelated, unconnected acts of violence in a time when violent crime in the county and much of the rest of the country is down.
But as far as the shootings go, it’s not a mystery to Tyra Williamson, an 18-year-old senior who wants to join the Navy. “It’s about time they saw what we’re seeing,” Tyra said. Her crowd was friends with Marckel Ross, an 18-year-old junior who was fatally shot Sept. 11 while walking to Central High School.
“He was good. And I’m not just saying regular good. He was a really good person. And all he was doing was walking to school,” she said.
Her theory is that there are a few kids who still don’t get it. Who listen to music and watch movies and think that’s real life, that’s the way you do things: violence, flash, guns.
“I think people don’t realize how much violence is out there influencing people. That they do this kind of stuff to try and impress,” said Tyra’s friend Rayonte Harris, a 17-year-old senior who plans to go to cosmetology school.
And then I met the kid who isn’t scared.
“I ain’t afraid. Nothing’s going to happen to me,” he said after I asked him whether he felt unsafe. He said he was 14, didn’t want to give me his name and said he felt nothing for the kids in his school who were killed.
That kid? That’s the one I’m scared for.
Follow me on Twitter at @petulad. To read earlier columns go to washingtonpost.com/dvorak.