BROOKLYN PARK, Minn. — Several teenagers have lost their lives do to violence across the Twin Cities since the beginning of the year.
Those tragedies led to candid conversations Thursday night with hopes of a solution to end these senseless acts.
"I don't know how we got here, but we need to get away from this," said Princess Gaye, who's nephew, a senior in high school was recently shot and killed in Brooklyn Park.
On Thursday night, in front of a panel made up of teens, mental health experts and law enforcement at the Ebenezer Community Church in Brooklyn Park, the discussion centered around the "why."
"The number one would be marijuana sales, the right to sell it, or some sort of bad deal that somebody got ripped off and they owed them money," said Brooklyn Park Police Chief Mark Bruley.
"A lot of times it's social media — that there was a feeling that somebody was so disrespected that they will pull up to a gas station and wait for the person, jump out shoot up the car, jump back in and leave," Bruley said.
"The gangs and stuff like that — fighting one another — that is mostly what's causing all the problems," said Noah Martin, a student at Brooklyn Center High School.
Mental health expert Dr. Aja King says young people can be influenced to join these gangs trying to find a sense of belonging.
"They are searching high and low for their identity, gangs provide identity, gang violence does not equal a broken family. When they are with their friends it's a different ball game," explained Dr. King, a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor.
"We got to go up stream and think about why are our youth craving, demanding that they must have a gun to feel some level of power," said Bruley.
"We need something to change, because all of our children are being affected," said Gaye.
Thursday night's conversation is one of many planned to be held at the Ebenezer Community Church in Brooklyn Park, for more information on the work the church and other local organizations are doing to help combat youth violence, click here.
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