KSLA Investigates: Social media & violence among youth

Published: Mar. 4, 2022 at 4:25 PM CST
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - The city’s latest homicide left a 17-year-old dead and an 18-year-old facing murder charges. The biggest question surrounding this tragedy: why? Why did one young man take another young man’s life?

Violence among youth in Shreveport is largely rooted in an argument or disagreement. According to Shreveport Police Chief Wayne Smith, that’s what happened in this case.

Officials say evidence collected at the scene, witness statements and other information has led investigators to believe Devin Myers, 17, and Shamichael Pearson, 18, had an on-going dispute. Now, they are trying to figure out what the disagreement was about and why it turned violent.

“That’s what we are doing this morning, going house to house, canvassing the neighborhood, talking to anyone we can find that knew both parties. We’re trying to figure out exactly what it was that caused things to come to this kind of degree to where violence occurred,” said Smith.

According to Smith and the Myers family, there was an incident back in December 2021 between Devin and Pearson. This led Myer’s mother to file a police report. Smith wasn’t able to elaborate on the nature of the incident or what the report says because he hadn’t reviewed it yet.

KSLA News 12 has filed a public records request to get a copy and read the report to see if there is any information to help explain why the dispute ended with Myers dead.

Law enforcement officials say a lot of the deadly trouble in the city is getting stirred up on social media. Particularly, videos uploaded to Instagram, YouTube and Facebook lead to amplified reactions on the street.

A couple months ago, Stacey Cameron spoke with Captain Bobby Herring at the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office who oversees investigations and school resource officers.

He said it’s common to see young people in their teens to 20′s dissing or disrespecting one another on social media. Sometimes it’s in a rap video, other times it’s a post calling someone out. The “diss” quickly gets seen thousands of times, and as a result, young people feel compelled to protect their reputation by replying with violence.

“That is the fuel to a lot of this. Everyone has a cell phone now with a social media platform... I mean as silly as it sounds, it’s just the social media. We’re seeing people say things and insult people on social media and it just manifests into fights and shootings outside of the schools,” Herring said.

So, how does law enforcement curb this senseless gun violence? Many police agencies have intelligence units that track social media, but that can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. Posts come so quick and there are thousands of young people beefing online that it’s almost an impossible problem to prevent.

Educators and law enforcement encourage parents to check, double check, and triple check their children’s phones. They should be on the lookout for troubling social media posts and additional accounts set up under street nicknames.

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