LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville Metro Police Chief Erika Shields had one word for recent violence that left one teenage girl dead and two other teens injured overnight: "unacceptable."
"That we have been normalized to children being slaughtered is complete crap," a disgusted Chief Shields told reporters during a news conference Thursday afternoon.
The comments came as LMPD officers canvassed homes in the Shawnee neighborhood, asking residents if they'd seen or heard anything during the recent shootings. At 8:50 Wednesday night, officers were called to the 200 block of Cecil Avenue, near South 41st Street and West Market Street, where a 16-year-old girl and a 15-year-old boy had been shot. The girl, who was later identified by the Jefferson County Coroner's Office as Nylah Linear, died at University Hospital.
Hours later, at 2 a.m. Thursday, officers were called to the same block where a Louisville teen was critically injured in another shooting. That 16-year-old girl was pronounced dead Thursday morning, according to LMPD spokeswoman Alicia Smiley. She has not been identified.
"It goes without saying that the violence is unacceptable," Chief Shields told reporters. "And children being killed -- we shouldn't even be having that discussion."
Major Steve Healey, commander of LMPD's Second Division, which includes the Shawnee neighborhood, called the violence "frustrating."
Cecil Avenue Shooting - 7-22-21
Pictured: Investigators with the Louisville Police Department at the scene of a shooting in the 200 block of Cecil Avenue in Louisville, Ky., …
"When we have children -- and that's what they are: they're children -- getting shot in our streets, dying in our streets. That’s unacceptable to me, as commander of the second division," he said.
"Enough is enough," he added. "This violence -- enough is enough."
Healey said he has reached out to federal authorities and LMPD will now be partnering with officers with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (AFT) to target the spike in violence.
"My officers are gonna be actively out in these neighborhoods," he said. "They are going to be visible. They are going to be approachable. If anybody has anything they need to talk about -- anything they see, anything they want to relay -- my officers are approachable. I am approachable. My office is at 3419 Bohne Avenue. You can come down there anytime and have a conversation."
"Be accustomed to seeing the marked cars in the neighborhoods because this is not acceptable anymore," he added.
Chief Shields says she believes the root causes of the shootings can be traced to two things in particular: guns and social media.
"No one wants to state the obvious, but it's the availability of guns," she said. "I mean, especially in southern states that have lax gun laws. And when people legally buy guns and they don't secure them, they get stolen and this is where they end up."
She said that young people, whose minds are still developing, lack conflict resolution skills -- and instead of punching a wall and smashing a window, they turn to violence.
"I think we overthink this. And the reality is, the guns are in the hands of children."
She added that sites like Facebook and Instagram are fueling the anger.
"When you start drilling down on the drivers of these cases, the simplicity of it all is alarming," she said. "It will be people getting offended by stuff said on social media. I mean, literally, it is that basic."
Both Chief Shields and Major Healey bemoaned the lack of response from witnesses, who have been reluctant recently to provide tips and information to police.
"It is still a problem, but I don't see where it's acceptable to anybody -- for 14-, 15-, 16-year-old children to be killed in the streets," Healey said. "I don't see where anybody -- if you have information on a crime that heinous, that you would not share that. We have anonymous tip lines where you can call and remain anonymous."
Chief Shields singled out the witnesses to the 2 a.m. shooting, blasting what she said was their refusal to cooperate with the police investigation.
"I am aware that in the second incident, the adults who were present are uncooperative," she said. "And to me, that is shameful. When you have a child who is near death, and the people who can provide insight don't want to talk -- at that point, we need to look at ourselves in a mirror and say, 'What are we doing?'
"As a society -- I don't care what part of town you're in -- we have got to be better than that," she added.
Both officers told anyone who knows anything about either of the cases to call the police tip line at 502-574-LMPD. Callers can remain anonymous.
"That's not how we should be living in America, and we're the frontlines of getting this fixed," Chief Shields said.
- 1 teen killed, 1 hurt in shooting in Louisville's Shawnee neighborhood
- Third Louisville teen shot on same street in Shawnee hours after double shooting
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