Expert explains teen violence after gas station shooting

Posted by: Melissa McKinney - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Dr. Thomas Petee is the president of a national homicide research group and works in Montgomery.

He says some teenagers are prone to committing violent acts.

"It's an age at which kids are going through the usual problems they have during adolescence," says Petee.

He says the shooting at the Shell station on Atlanta Highway doesn't surprise him.

"It's not unusual to see customers shot in robbery attempts."

But to folks like Carolyn Jackson, the shooting isn't what shocks her.

"When you think of a 14 and 15 year old, it's just unheard of. It's beginning to be kinda scary," says Jackson.

The store's surveillance video shows the two teens attempting to rob the gas station.

One forced a customer to the ground and shot him in the back.

Dr. Petee says as teens mature, they copy what they've seen.

"They're going to react violently sometimes because they see adults do that sometimes."

He believes bad home lives, thrill, and peer pressure contribute to teen violence.

Fortunately, he says--nationwide--juvenile violence is down nearly five percent, which might explain why police aren't seeing a spike in teen crimes.

"They do occur unfortunately, but it occurs all the way from young children like this...14-15 year old to older adults," says Captain Keith Barnett with the Montgomery Police Department.

Still Jackson, who has children of her own, says it's time for parents to take a stand.

"We as a parent we need to kinda know where our kids are and get attached to them and be more resilient as to where they are."

Doctor Petee says research shows criminal activity in males peaks between the ages of 15-17.

As kids mature, it starts to go down.  Still, he says it takes an entire community to help keep kids out of trouble.

Right now, the two teens are in the Montgomery County Juvenile Detention Center.

Police have not released their names because of their age.

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