Killeen leaders call for action as more teens involved in violent crime
KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) - More and more teenagers are getting involved in violent crime in Central Texas, mainly around the Killeen area, and local leaders are concerned and urging the community to take action.
Since the beginning of the year, two of the three most notable shootings around Killeen involved teenagers. Killeen resident and community organizer Vantonio Faley said that emphasizes the push to create more youth and community centers to keep children and teenagers active and out of trouble.
“Right now, we’re seeing the consequence of not having anything to do for our youth,” said Fraley, founder and director of IMpossible Teen Center in Killeen.
Fraley said he is now working harder to re-establish IMpossible, which had to close down because of lack of funding. The idea behind the center was to provide local youth with something to do after school.
“Right now I’m more focused on having a location,” said Fraley. “Having a location for these kids so they always have somewhere to go.”
Teen violence started 2022 off on a sour note, with two teens shot off Bacon Ranch Road on Jan. 4, and another shot off Fort Hood Street and Rancier Avenue on Jan. 14.
The latest incident left 19-year-old Ty Andre Gentle dead, killed in an ambush in Harker Heights.
“I hope we don’t have to lose any more children to bring awareness to what we already know we need,” said Fraley.
He added, without something to fill teens time after school, the temptation to get involved in gangs or violent crime rises.
That is something Killeen’s police chief said is on the mind of all area residents.
“There is a concern and we try our best to suppress that activity,” said Chief Charles Kimble, while speaking at the scene of a Tuesday armed robbery.
Fraley said he is meeting with the Texas Education Agency on ways to secure more grant funding for his facility. But he is still asking for the public’s help in getting his center up-and-running again.
There is now a possibility he could re-open by the end of the month.
This time, the hope is the center will last longer.
“It’s the gang member or the next person saying, ‘hey I can help you with something to eat,” said Fraley. “I can’t be mad at a child for making that decision, it’s called survival. When we have to rush to survive like that, we don’t make the best decision.”
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