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Gun violence in metro Atlanta claiming lives of children, changing world of young survivors

The number of children and young teens in metro Atlanta who died from gun violence this year alarms local leader Keith Strickland. And he says it's time for action.

ATLANTA — Case-after-case of heartbreaking gun violence has taken its toll on metro Atlanta in 2020 - and even taken the lives of some of the area's youngest.

Now, communities want to know what's being done to stop it.

It is a question the family of 11-year-old Tyrell Sims is asking. They want change and they want justice for Tyrell, who was killed in a drive-by in East Point.

"I didn't want to bury my baby, period," a tearful and emotional mother told 11Alive.

East Point Police have identified two persons of interest in the shooting death. Police believe Antonius Aziz and Jeremiah Taylor both have information about what happened that could help investigators.

There’s also the tragic shooting death of 12-year-old Brayan Zavala. He was killed in a drive-by shooting in October while he was outside in his front yard in Clayton County.

“I’m trying to be as tough as I can be. It’s my brother. I just want my family to be strong,” his older brother told 11Alive.

And the family of 8-year-old Secoriea Turner shared their pain and heartache with the world after the child was shot dead on July 4th weekend.  

“My baby didn’t mean no harm. Somebody knows something,” her mother pleaded to the public.

Turner died while she was in a car. Someone fired shots toward the vehicle, killing her.

The list of children killed from gun violence goes on, from shootings categorized as homicides and others as accidental.

Community activist and organizer Keith Strickland described it as an epidemic that he constantly sees in the metro Atlanta community.

“I knocked on doors and I talked to so many parents. So many brothers and sisters. So many people that had lost siblings," he said. "And the common thing I saw was that pain they felt left a hole."

In some cases, the kids, fortunately, survive, like Keyona’s 9-year-old son Javonni, who recently recovered after he was shot in East Atlanta Village back in July.

Strickland said that when violence starts feeling normal to the youth, they become the most vulnerable.

“It’s going to take our faith-based community saying, we’re going to surround our youth and wrap them with love so they don’t have to go into these type of environments and get love somewhere else," he said.

As some mothers continue waiting for answers, community leaders are urging people to step up and be part of the change.

“And we really want to show them that we’re sad with you It’s going to take all of us saying what’s my part and what can I do,” Strickland said.

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