GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Teen violence is a problem Gulfport experienced first hand over the weekend when a 15-year-old allegedly shot and killed a 16-year-old.
Devonna Guy with the Forest Heights Center Boys and Girls Club in Gulfport sees kids every day dealing with temptations that could lead to violence. She's hoping the tragedy that claimed the life of Ny-Gel Poole will serve as an eye opener.
"A lot of kids don't believe that it can happen to them," said Guy. "This is so close to home because it's our neighborhood over here and these kids are seeing it, so it's really hitting close to home. They can see it really can happen to them."
Fifteen-year-old Jayla Pleasant knows the accused shooter Kobe Augustine and doesn't understand how this could have happened.
"A lot of violence has been going on and somebody got killed over it, basically nothing," said Pleasant.
At the Boys and Girls Club, Guy believes providing a positive environment for young people is the biggest weapon against a culture of violence.
"You keep instilling good character in the kids and how to be positive," said Guy. "It's like a repetitive cycle. If you're negative all the time, you do negative. But if you hear positive, you'll do positive."
Kelvin Fairley is a father of three, including a 14-year-old. He thinks a lack of parent involvement is one of the biggest problems leading to teen violence.
"Parent are giving their kids too much freedom and allowing them to dictate their own schedules," said Fairley.
Fairley said keeping his children busy with activities, like those at the Boys and Girls Club after school, is the best way to keep them safe.
"They keep them from running the streets after school for parents like me that can't be there when they get off the bus. You don't have to worry about them being home alone," said Fairley. "They get to grow up with other kids their age and participate in activities and form camaraderie with all the other kids."
Gulfport teenagers Jayla Pleasant and Joseph Bournes believe they can make a difference by being a positive influence and they have a message for others their age.
"Just stay away from violence because at the end of the day it's not worth it," said Bournes.
"I see it happened and I don't want it to happen to me and I don't want it to happen to anybody else," said Pleasant.
According to the arrest affidavit, 15-year-old Kobe Augustine confessed to killing 16-year-old Ny-Gel Poole. Augustine is being held in the Harrison County Jail on a $1 million bond.