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Woman recounts being caught up in shootout near Atlantic Station

A bullet lodged in the door frame of a truck– just missing Rebecca Walden's head by a few feet. She had no idea, the extent of what unfolded around her Saturday.

ATLANTA — A date night turned into a nightmare as a shootout erupted near Atlanta Station – a 12-year-old boy was gunned down and several other teenagers were hit by gunfire. 

A bullet lodged in the door frame of a truck– just missing Rebecca Walden's head by a few feet. She had no idea, the extent of what unfolded around her Saturday night.

"All of a sudden it sounded like firecrackers, like 'pop, pop, pop, pop.' Then it was consecutive 'pop, pop, pop.' Then it was like 'BOOOM.' And that’s when I got down and Ron said we’re hit. I’m like, 'What?'", Walden explained. 

Walden said her date pulled over and they found the bullet hole in the passenger door frame of his F-150. 

"Two feet away from my head," she said.

Walden said the whole area was flooded with teenagers. She said they couldn't move because, besides the teens, the traffic was bumper to bumper. She added she was surprised because Atlantic Station has a "strict curfew."

Its website states, "A 3:00 p.m. curfew is strictly enforced. All youth under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian after 3:00 p.m. No more than 4 youths per parent or guardian. Juvenile groups of 4+ will be dispersed. No individuals under 21 are permitted on property after 9:00 p.m."

Walden pointed out, even with that curfew in effect, this shooting happened just feet away.

Atlanta city leaders have been working to curb crime involving youth for months. A city-wide curfew for teens has been proposed after the recent gun violence, but would it work? 

11Alive spoke with William Carbone, an expert on juvenile justice reform, Tuesday evening. He said he doesn't think youth curfews are effective. 

"They (curfews) are largely not successful primarily because one, they are very difficult to enforce by police. And number two, it’s very difficult to tell adolescents they can’t be outside or going about their business with friends, and expect them to be compliant with it," He said. 

Carbone said shootings like the one we saw over the weekend are rooted by much deeper issues. He said it coincides with social issues and poverty.

"The shootings are very, very complex problems that arise out of a lot of social issues that are not being addressed within the families and communities of where they live," Carbone explained.

Atlanta Police said they believe some of the individuals involved in the shooting on Saturday were tied to gangs. Carbone said there's not a lot of research out there on how to get kids "out" of gangs and said the best way to combat a "gang problem" is to prevent kids from "entering" a gang.

Carbone also pointed out kids find families even if it's not behind the doors of their homes. This is oftentimes how gang members recruit new members.

As for the curfew issue, even Walden said she doesn't believe this will fix what's happening in the city. 

"No, because parents can’t enforce a curfew if they don’t even know where their kids are," Walden explained. "We as a community have to invest more. We need to give kids better more important things to do."

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