(Rochester, N.Y.) – Rochester Police say the most violent crimes are being committed by the youngest criminals--angry teens who should be in school, but instead are running the streets where many of them expect to die.
Over 11 years have passed since Saucobie Riley grew up on North Street, but when he looked into Tyquan Rivera’s eyes he quickly remembered being 14.
At that age, he was getting most of his education out of school, from older teens on the streets.
"It’s like, 'If I get in trouble, so what?' Riley said. “If they hurt somebody, it’s like, ‘So what? I hurt them. It’s OK. They'll get over it.’"
While overall crime is down, the worst crimes are more violent and the criminals are younger. For the last seven years, Steve Huston has worked with gang members at “Pathways to Peace.”
“Thing are getting more violent with our youth,” he said. "They don't seem to have a coping mechanism when it comes to dealing adversity. The slightest little thing sets our kids off."
Most recently, he sees gangs that are looser and younger with 12 and 13-year-olds looking to 15-year-olds for leadership. Young people, who can't control their anger, and have already given up on their futures.
"We have 14-year-olds…that don't expect to be here at the age of 20 and 21," Huston said.
Huston said those who expect to die on the streets have little regard for anyone else, especially police officers.
Based on interviews with teenagers now in jail, police report that a growing number of them say that at least, going to jail or prison has kept them from dying in street violence.
Pathways to Peace and other organizations say it’s a difficult problem because some kids don't even have a parent who will intervene. Other parents say they have tried everything and cannot control their own children.
Had he not gotten out when he did, Riley figures he'd be dead or in jail.
"I had to learn the hard way,” he said. “A lot of people had to learn the hard way."
Riley had a coach and mentor and decided to turn things around so he could play football in college. He said intervention gave him someone to support and watch over him.
He nearly dropped out of high school, but now works with Special Education students at School #6.