Police: Facebook fights among teens prompting many shootings in Green Bay this year
GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Arguments over Facebook posts are one of the driving factors for several shootings in Green Bay this year.
That’s according to the police officers assigned to the city’s Violent Crime Suppression Unit, tasked with stopping the gun crimes.
“We may not be making arrests on everything, but we know who’s who and what’s what,” says VCSU Officer Matt Woods. “We spend a lot of time stopping at houses, talking to parents, kids, and that’s the primary focus is just getting back to that grass roots effort of going out and talking to people in the neighborhood.”
Officers Matt Woods and Michael Stuedemann have spent the last few months getting ‘in the know’ about who’s behind the 45 shootings the city of Green Bay has seen this year.
And more importantly, they’re finding out why there’s gunfire in the first place.
“They’re fighting over Facebook drama,” says Stuedemann. “They’re fighting over words and messages. They’re fighting over females. It’s not turf and drugs and money, it’s very juvenile what they’re doing.”
In fact, they are juveniles.
The VCSU officers say it’s mostly 14 to 18 year olds using guns to settle those social media arguments.
“A lot of these kids, being juveniles, they just follow the group, and when we speak to them and have them in handcuffs, they’re scared, and they don’t want to be involved and commit these crimes and get hurt,” says Stuedemann. “I think that’s a trend in America right now is juvenile crime, and this violent crime in younger and younger groups. They’re getting their hands on firearms which is a very scary thing for the public.”
Scary, yes, which is why the two have been spending so much time in neighborhoods where these teens live, not just identifying the problems, but getting to know the teens and families and trying to engage the parents to intervene.
That includes having conversations with the teens’ mothers.
“Nobody wants to see their kid get shot or killed or hurt, especially the mothers. We’ve done a lot of work with moms in this unit,” says Woods. “We don’t want to put anybody in the system. A lot of this has been trying to get out in front of this and maybe have the parents handle it before it becomes a big issue.”
“We’ve gone out to kids games. We’ve shown up at their houses unannounced,” describes Stuedemann, of the work they’ve tried to do in the community so far.
But it takes a village, as these officers say, and in some cases, an eye-opening experience to prompt families to take action.
“We made a traffic stop early on in our unit that was involved in a weapons call. We found a handgun that had an extended magazine on it. It was seized. We showed the grandparents and the parents of it, because it was in the backyard, found right next to a playset of a kid, right next to kids’ toys,” describes Stuedemann. “They had been upset we’d detained people and arrested them. We showed them this firearm. That group has actually been quiet since. Some were sent back. (They) had been from Milwaukee and Chicago.”
The officers hope to see continued responses like that to prevent another surge in gun violence like we saw at this time last year.
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