LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — A drive-by shooting at a bus stop Wednesday morning killed one student and injured two others.
The shooting was reported around 6:20 a.m. Wednesday near the intersection of Dr. WJ Hodge and Chestnut streets.
Louisville Metro Police First Division Commander Shannon Lauder said students were waiting at the bus stop when a vehicle drove by and fired gunshots into the group. Two of the students were hit. A 16-year-old boy, identified Wednesday evening by family as Tyree Smith, was taken to University Hospital, where he died.
Mayor Greg Fischer said he was Louisville’s 145th homicide victim this year.
“As a father and a grandfather, this breaks my heart,” Fischer said during a news conference Wednesday. “And even the most caring words seem inadequate in offering solace to a family suffering such irreplaceable loss.”
A 13-year-old boy was taken to Norton Children’s Hospital to be treated for a gunshot wound. He’s expected to survive, per LMPD spokesman Dwight Mitchell. A 14-year-old girl was treated at the scene, and LMPD said she was grazed in the shooting.
LMPD is looking for a gray 2019 Jeep Cherokee with Illinois plate BD91644 that was seen near the scene.
Jefferson County Public Schools spokeswoman Renee Murphy said the bus the students were waiting for arrived shortly after the shooting. It was picking up students to go to Eastern High School, and Superintendent Marty Pollio said the victims were students at the school.
“It is critical that we act together to make sure that our children are safe and that no child again stands at a bus stop and has to face fear like this,” Pollio said during Wednesday’s news conference.
Federal law enforcement agencies are involved in the investigation, and representatives of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and FBI spoke during Wednesday’s news conference alongside Fischer, Shields, Pollio and others.
Shawn Morrow, special agent in charge of the ATF’s Louisville field division, said ATF officers responded to the scene to assist LMPD with the investigation. The agency will also help process evidence through its national laboratory and ballistics database.
Ed Gray, acting special agent in charge of the FBI’s Louisville office, also said the agency would help investigate and process evidence from Wednesday’s deadly shooting.
“No young person should have to live in an environment where they’re afraid of violence, and no community should have to live in fear that their children could be victimized while waiting on a school bus,” Morrow said.
Crisis counselors will be at Eastern High School and Crosby Middle School — which Pollio said had a bus stop about a block away from the shooting scene — to help students and teachers.
“Kids couldn’t even wait at the bus stop without getting shot,” Lauder said. “That is horrifying and devastating, and we are going to throw all of our resources into finding out what happened.”
She said LMPD is asking the public for information. Lauder asked that anyone in the area with cameras to please check them. She also said parents should talk to their children when they come in from school with any possible information.
LMPD Chief Erika Shields said LMPD would explore the possibility of installing surveillance cameras at locations of violent incidents after Wednesday’s shooting, and she also said she would be “leaning in” on the Jefferson County Board of Education to create an internal police force for JCPS.
“We can’t sit here with our thumbs up our ass, do nothing different and think we won’t be back at this podium,” Shields said. “So I can promise you I will be banging that drum loudly, because we have to change the paradigm.
“We are dealing with a very difficult gang issue in the city. Many of our gang members go to these schools … Without having dedicated school resource officers who are trained in identifying gang members, identifying potential conflict, having that constant ongoing communication, we are we are lacking critical intelligence.”
JCPS has been without school resource officers since Louisville Metro pulled LMPD officers from schools because of budget constraints and a split board did not approve contracts with other Jefferson County law enforcement agencies for officers.
Talks for an internal security force at JCPS stalled at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pollio said, adding that he was unsure whether an internal security team would have made an impact in preventing Wednesday’s shooting.
“We were on course to make a recommendation prior to the pandemic, so we’ll be talking about that with our board,” he said.
The suggestion from Shields drew a rebuke from school board member Chris Kolb, who represents District 2.
I am absolutely disgusted that it took @LMPD Chief Shields less than six hours to cynically use the murder of a child to push for a measure that will do nothing to improve safety and will further marginalize black students. Shameful and reprehensible. https://t.co/3KFrNhGXtI
— Chris Kolb 🧰📚📝🌹 (@cmkolb) September 22, 2021
Shields also suggested there was “something afoot” at Eastern High School given recent incidents, saying LMPD arrested four juveniles this weekend accused of carjackings.
“Let’s give (Pollio) and his staff and his educators a fighting chance, so yeah, I’m going to be making some noise because this is not acceptable and I am tired of burying kids,” she said.
Pollio said Eastern High School is “a great school” with “fantastic students.”
“Students are impacted by what happens in the community, and I think to Councilman (Jecorey) Arthur’s points, when you’re talking about students who have a lot of need, a lot of trauma, a lot of things that are happening, that happens in the community and that’s not necessarily Eastern High School,” he said.
Fischer said Wednesday that of the 145 homicides in Louisville in 2021, 15% of the victims have been under the age of 18. LMPD will have an increased and visible presence throughout the next several days as students await transportation to and from schools.
“We are partnering with JCPS at all levels in this collaborative effort to keep the children of our community safe,” Shields said. “We must all work together to reduce violent crime and we urge the public to report any suspicious activities.
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