Three teens arrested in Highlands killing, community searching for solutions

Community searches for answers after shooting in the Highlands
Updated: Nov. 10, 2017 at 6:00 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Three 15-year-olds have been arrested in connection to a killing in the Highlands.

The third teen was taken into custody Thursday night in connection with Sunday night's shooting of Jason Spencer, 30.

Spencer, a newlywed, was killed while walking with his wife on Everett Avenue on Sunday night.

Police said it happened during an attempted robbery. Spencer allegedly returned fire before his death.

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The names of the three 15-year-olds charged in the murder have not yet been released. As in the case of the Pegasus Parade shooting, arrests happened right away, but legally there are guidelines before names of juveniles can be released.

Officials with the Office of the Commonwealth Attorney told WAVE 3 News that in juvenile cases there must be probable cause that a felony was committed, a firearm was used, and that the defendants are age 14 or older.

A juvenile court hearing is held within 30 days, usually with police officer testimony. The case is then presented to a grand jury. Once indicted, the teens are prosecuted as adults.

The night after the crime, community activist Christopher 2X and others held a vigil in the Highlands for Spencer.

2X said that he has seen more teens involved in violent crime over the last several years.

The problem, 2X said, is that more teens are getting guns and committing crimes at normally safe events, like the shooting that happened at the Pegasus Parade. Plus, it's happening in more neighborhoods in Louisville, like the Highlands and Germantown.

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The mother of the first 15-year-old arrested, who was also shot during the incident, had allegedly been working with a counselor to try and get her son's behavior under control before it was too late. That counselor called Chris 2X Monday, the day after the shooting.

"She feared at some point, something could go real bad," 2X said. "So she [the mother] says she tried to go to juvenile courts, time and time again, to see if there was a way to try and get him some serious help."

The counselor said she was denied.

"I've seen the courts very reluctant to want to put a juvenile in custody and hold them for a long period of time," 2X said. "Example, put them in a camp somewhere."

As those charged with violent crimes are getting younger, community leaders, like the YMCA's Steve Tarver, are getting more involved.

Violent crime meetings and outreach has been happening at the Chestnut Street YMCA two nights a week. Leaders talk with troubled teens and their parents on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Tarver said he's honored the YMCA can be a safe place for a respectful discussions to take place about violent crime. He hopes more people will start getting involved.

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