Kids need an alternative to crime says East Bluff mentor, after teen arrested for another teen’s murder

Published: Sep. 12, 2023 at 9:10 PM CDT
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PEORIA (25News Now) - As a 14-year-old boy sits in jail, accused of killing a 17-year-old, the calls continue for parents and adults to prevent kids from ending up on either side of the gun.

Peoria County State’s Attorney’s office said the August 22 shooting was committed while other young children watched in “broad daylight.” Dahvie Bey-Brown was killed in that shooting.

“The actions displayed by this defendant are not the actions of a juvenile,” State’s Attorney Jodi Hoos said in a statement. The office intends to try the boy as an adult.

“These are the actions of a cold-blooded adult killer,” she continued. A judge will determine how the boy will be tried in an Oct. 5 hearing.

It’s a severe and recent example of a troubling trend in crime. In one of our previous reports on violence in the city, Peoria Police Chief Crime Analyst Jacob Moushon said they are seeing young people commit violent crimes at faster rates.

Juveniles tend to start with less deadly crimes, like shoplifting or vandalism, and may work their way up to violence over a long period of time.

“That increase is now shrinking,” Moushon said in the January interview. “That means they’re becoming more violent, quicker.”

PPD Chief Eric Echevarria said the violence is, in part, spurred on by violence in music, movies, video games, and more.

“It’s children and young adults, teens, who just can’t communicate and they think let’s just go to this type of violence,” he said.

Echevarria said the gun violence is the result of personal fights between these young teens. He thinks they may not understand the consequences of their actions until the trigger is pulled.

At the same time, he wants parents and adults to step up.

“We have adults who get into fights with minors, we have adults who are instigating fights with minors, we have adults who are frankly giving guns to minors to go shoot somebody,” he said. “Adults have to be adults, parents have to be parents.”

East Bluff resident and business owner Tre Thompson knows what influences these teens are under all too well. He was running drugs and committing crimes as young as 15, he said. He lost a friend to gun violence.

Tre Thomspn
Tre Thomspn(WEEK)

In the 10 years since he started his own carpet cleaning business, Thompson’s Clean King, and is now trying to be the positive influence he wished he had as a teen.

“I came from a background of selling drugs and ripping and running the streets, doing stuff I wasn’t supposed to, but that’s what I was exposed to,” he said.

Thompson agrees with the chief that violent media is contributing to a culture of violence. It normalizes it, he said. Often, kids and young teens don’t have any other influence, and bad role models can also draw young people in.

He mentors children aged 11 to 14 years old through his program Boys to Men Empowerment in partnership with the East Bluff Community Center. He’s looking for more mentors and kids to join.

He takes his mentees out with him while he cleans carpets. They get to see his business and see another option for making a living. Plus, he said, it gets them tired, and they are less likely to go out if they are tired from a long day of work.

“In order to keep them off the streets, we’ve got to keep them busy,” he said. “We can’t just tell them what they should and shouldn’t be doing, but actually give them something to do to keep them away from that.”