Teenage gun violence on the rise in Sioux Falls


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Teenagers and guns, it can be a scary combination. Almost every major crime in Sioux Falls the past few months has involved gunfire at the hands of a teenage shooter.

Earlier this week, police say a 16 year old shot a 13 year old girl in the leg when he fired into car full of teens.

In December, a 16 year old was shot and killed during a drug deal gone wrong, at least 4 guns and a handful of teenagers were involved in the shootout.

A Lincoln high School student killed during a Halloween gathering, the suspected shooter also a teen. In August, police arrested a teenager with a stolen gun for attempted murder for shooting outside a convenience store.

Even during the riots at the Empire Mall last spring, police arrested a teen accused of firing a gun at officers.

Police say they have taken a hard look at the increase in teenage gun violence but don’t see any one reason behind it.

“You know when it comes down to it, you know we’ve seen a few that have been because of drugs, we’ve seen others that have been because of gang members, there’s just any number of reasons why that could happen and there’s not necessarily one thing that fits to explain why we’ve seen an increase.” said Sioux Falls Police Department Spokesman, Officer Sam Clemens

An article published by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry says a teenager’s frontal cortex is still developing. Because of that, adolescents are less likely to:

  • Think before they act
  • Pause to consider the consequences of their actions
  • Change their dangerous or inappropriate behaviors

Unfortunately it’s something police see first hand every day. And when it comes to guns there’s been a definite change in behavior.

“It used to be they were showing them and displaying them, threatening with them and now they are going through and using the guns so it’s incredibly frustrating,” said Clemens.

According to figures provided by the FBI thieves got away with 3,686 guns in South Dakota between 2012 and 2017.

In Sioux Falls a good chunk of those guns were taken from cars. And what’s even more surprising is a lot of those cars were unlocked.

“If they find a gun chances are that gun is going to be used in the commission of some other crime in the future and we’ve seen that in the past,” said Clemens.

When it comes to guns, teenagers and violence, police hope this is just an anomaly, and not a new normal for a growing city like Sioux Falls.

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