ATLANTA - If this summer in Atlanta has seemed unusually violent, you're right. We looked at the numbers and found since May 1st, there have been more murders, shootings and nearly twice as many victims as the same time last year.
11Alive Investigate Reporter Rebecca Lindstrom reviewed crime statistics and made several open records requests to compare gun violence for the past two months. She found in 2015, Atlanta police investigated 16 murders. In 2016, there have been 19.
"He's not here and that's the only thing that matters to me," said Natalie Quiller, the daughter of Barney Simms, a prominent civic leader killed in front of his home. "He was an amazing father. He was an amazing guy."
We found Quiller cleaning the yard to his home, a symbol of pride for more than 40 years.
"This is where he raised me and my brother and it means a lot. That's what this house represents, growth to us. And to love your community. If you don't like it, change it and get involved."
There are things not to like. Police say Simms was shot by 17-year old Eric Banks on April 9, a sign of a shooting spree that doesn't seem to be slowing down.
In 2015, there were 59 shootings with 66 people injured. In 2016, there were 85 shootings from May 1 to June 27, with 104 victims reported.
"The idea of shooting someone has become a normalized activity," said Garry Ogden a juvenile probation officer and youth advocate.
Ogden says he's been watching the rise in youth violence for years. He says teens have greater access to electronics to coordinate their activity - and guns. He believes that combination is only magnified by budget cuts to youth summer jobs and mentoring opportunities, chances for kids to learn anger management and good decision-making skills.
"You offend me, I shoot you. There is no thought process. Before someone decides to use that gun, before somebody decides to make that threat, there's a decision to be made," he explained.
Ogden says we're also seeing the fallout from efforts to get tough on crime.
"When we put all these people in prison we didn't really project they're going to come home sometime. Now a lot of them are coming home. We're 25, 30 years out and they're coming back into society. A lot of them went in without those social skills." Ogden says time in prison didn't likely do anything to help those skills.
"What do we do?" asked Quiller, standing just feet from the wax-stained sidewalk, that marks the vigils held to honor her father.
"That's the question? How do we stop it? How do we decrease the violence from every age? How?"
On Wednesday, Mayor Kasim Reed is going to join Atlanta Police Chief George Turner to try his best to answer those questions. They've called a media briefing to talk about the numbers and what they believe is behind them, as they discuss the city's public safety summer operations plan. 11Alive.com will live stream that press conference as part of our on-going investigation into Atlanta's violence.