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Teen Shooters Made 2016 a Deadlier Year for Central Florida

Tanya Skeen, Gino Nicolas, Brian Mortensen and Kendra La'Sheka Lewis. - Original Credit: Family photos - Original Source: Family photos (Family photos / Courtesy photo)

In the wake of the Pulse nightclub massacre in which 49 people were killed, it should surprise no one that homicides in Orange County, Florida were up in 2016. However, even controlling for that aberrant event, homicides were up in Orange and the surrounding counties of Central Florida, with the big story being teen shooters taking out unintended victims.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Orange County had 103 reported homicides in 2015, and that number climbed to 165 in 2016. Twelve of the victims were teenagers. There was another big jump in Seminole County; its 25 killings in 2016 were up from only eight the previous year. Fortunately, a couple of counties experienced significant drops, so that in all seven counties of Central Florida, slayings were up 22, from 215 in 2015 to 237 in 2016.

Sgt. Jay Draisin of the Orlando Police Department homicide unit called the plethora of unintended victims a “troubling trend” that indicates “an indifference to human life.” Instead of targeting specific individuals, perpetrators are simply willing “to drive by and open fire.” Beyond the moral perplexity, unintended victim homicides present practical difficulties to law enforcement trying to solve the crimes. In Orlando, police have solved 86 percent of last year’s homicides (a statistic that does not include Pulse, even though that case is considered solved), while Orange County deputies have closed only 54 percent of their homicide cases.

Much of the problem revolves around teenagers shooting at teenagers and anyone else who happens upon the scene. As Sgt. Mike Ruggiero of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office homicide unit says, “I think they just don’t realize the impact of shooting somebody, and the result of that. They don’t think long-term, I guess. And they act on impulse. They certainly don’t think about all the innocent people that are there.”

So, while the victims cry out for justice, law enforcement has the problem of finding the actual perpetrators, and the criminal justice system must wrestle with prosecuting defendants who may have been unable to appreciate the consequences of their actions. As advocates for victims of wrongful death and criminal defense lawyers, we at Largey Law also struggle with these issues. We believe that our adversarial court system is the best process for pursuing justice, and we are committed to providing robust representation to our clients on either side of the issue.

Largey Law fights aggressively for justice in the civil and criminal courts. To schedule an appointment with an experienced wrongful death lawyer or a criminal defense attorney at our firm, call 352.508.1485 or contact our office online.

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