Residents of crime ridden areas in Macon say the issue of youth violence begins in the home. Some blame a lack of parental guidance; others say too much idle time causes teens to fall into the hands of crime.
Shon Thomas grew up in Macon, turned down gang activity, and now looks to change the city one student at a time.
"They would jump on you and make you get into the gang. And I got jumped on but I still didn't connect with the people I just stayed in my own area," said Thomas.
Thomas went to Southwest High School during the late 90's and he's ready to take positive efforts for the sake of Macon's youth. Thomas battled the pressure of joining a gang during high school and says he can relate to teens and his ultimate goal is to show them a better way to success, without crime.
"We're going to take them on trips, we're going to help them with their homework. We're just going to do a lot of different things and give them something positive to in to. And we're going to connect with every high school in Macon, Georgia," said Thomas.
Thomas is partnering with Agape Covenant Worship Center and Lizzie Chapel Baptist Church to create Sons of David and Daughters of Ester, a mentor program for grades 9 through 12 in Macon high schools.
Community activity and awareness is exactly what city leaders believe will turn the tide of youth violence.
"Obviously this is our problem as a city. I'm not just talking about elected officials only. I'm speaking about all the citizens of Macon and that's why I talk about a no tolerance policy that we all adopt," said Macon City Councilman, Larry Schlesinger.
Greg Gunn is a resident near the Berkner Avenue shooting and puts the blame on parents for the recent youth crime spike.
"If you live by the gun you'll die by it. Because nothing like you're just going to go shoot somebody and nothing is going to be done about it. They got to think and a lot of time they don't think about things," said Gunn.
Thomas says his program will support single parents and households that need help the most.
"They'll be able to come to us and we'll be able to take that extra time with them because we're going to spend a lot of time with the kids," said Thomas.
The public safety committee will have a special called meeting on Thursday evening to discuss measures to reduce shootings and violent youth crimes in Macon
If you're interested in getting your child involved with the mentor program you can reach Shon Thomas at (478) 390-7256.