Series of shootings impacting community and children, how to help

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Knoxville Police Department has released the name of the victim in a deadly shooting on Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue Thursday night. A spokesperson reported 28-year-old Vincent Williams was found in the parking lot with a gunshot wound around 8:30 p.m. Williams was later pronounced dead.

Ralphelle James, 57, was later arrested and charged with first-degree murder and other gun-related charges.

The latest shooting came one week after investigators responded to another series of shots at the same apartment complex. On May 13, officers reported three victims were being treated for non-life threatening gunshot injuries. And last November, police reported a juvenile was shot in the stomach.

Sandra Reyes was inside her upstairs apartment when she heard a series of shots Thursday night.

Unfortunately, she’s becoming less surprised by the sound, and the lights of police cars that follow.

“We’re at war in the neighborhood,” she said. “That’s what it seems like. That’s exactly what it seems like… it’s dangerous for these kids when they’re outside playing.”

Reyes estimated more than a dozen children were either on the playground or on the sidewalk when the latest shooting occurred.

Lindsay Stone, Director of Youth and Mental Health Programming at the McNabb Center, said in witnessing a shooting can have a greater impact on young people than any other trauma. She explained in cases like this, it’s important to talk to a child immediately.

“If we don’t talk about it around them, they have more of a likelihood to push it down, push it away, not deal with it, then usually what we see are behaviors that come out or it comes out months, years, down the road because it’s been unresolved,” she said.

Reyes hopes things turn around, but recently she hasn’t had much hope.

“These are nice apartments. They’re nice. It’s like the people that’s doing the shooting are trying to run people off,” she added.

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