Deaths by gun violence among young people on the rise nationwide, including Kern County

Crime Watch

The shooting in an East Bakersfield neighborhood on Tuesday that wounded a juvenile is part of an alarming trend being seen throughout the country. Deaths from gun violence among young people are sharply increasing.

According to the FBI, killings among people under 19 rose more than 21 percent nationwide in 2020. Manuel Carrizales, the founder and director of Stay Focused Ministries, said he is seeing these effects in Kern County.

“A lot of these young kids today, they’re desensitized — they’re numb to what’s taking place,” Carrizales said. “A lot of them don’t care and I really believe they are starving for love.”

In 2019, 991 people age 17 and younger died from gun violence in the United States. In 2020, that number increased to 1,375 deaths and 2021 is already on track to surpass both.

Professor of Criminal Justice at Bakersfield College and retired police chief Dr. Tommy Tunson said the pandemic has exasperated the problem, especially for the young community.

“Its hard enough dealing with regular life before the pandemic,” Tunson said. “You add the pandemic and all the restrictions — all the conditions towards work, towards society and towards education.”

There have been 128 homicides in Kern County so far this year and nine of those were people under 18. The youngest was just 2 months old.

Carrizales said helping is all about staying consistent and the shooting in Bakersfield on Tuesday was a call to do more.

“For me, its just more of an alarm to reach more into the neighborhoods, to reach more into the concrete jungles of America and just do what we can here in our city,” he said.

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