Not My Son program aims to stop teen violence in St. Pete

- Alvin Jones has already lost one child. He doesn't want to also lose his other - 18-year-old Danya - who was 10 when his big brother, Vondarrial was killed in 2006.

"My son got killed in a drive-by shooting," Jones told FOX 13 News.

Danya said he can't even count how many friends he's lost to violence.

"You knew some of the people, you used to grow up with some of them," he said. "They are just gone now. There's nothing you can do, but try to stay away from it."

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman stood with church leaders, police and mourning parents at the launch of Not My son - a program many hope will curb teen violence in Pinellas County.

"Right now in St. Pete, they're the ones picking up the guns to solve problems and settle scores. They're the ones killing each other, and that's just the reality," Kriseman said at the launch, which included a walk to distribute yard signs and t-shirts in the communities hit hardest by violence.

Speakers encouraged parents to be more active in their children's lives - through education and simply keeping tabs. The mayor said help was also coming in the way of federal grants to help pay for job training and mentoring programs.

Community groups will also go out every Friday to canvass different parts of the city, to raise awareness and remind families to stay involved.

"We have to stop the way we have been doing things," Kriseman said. "It is going to take the parents, the relatives, the friends, the family; everyone has to come together if this is going to happen, and things will change."

St. Petersburg's police chief said there have been two teens killed this year by gun violence - and a total of 43 since the beginning of 2014.

Everyone acknowledged the program would not bring an end to violence, rather, a beginning of hope.

"It is going to take all of us, as a community, as a city, showing love for one another, that we don't want to lose another child to gun violence," said City Councilwoman Lisa Wheeler-Brown. "I know some of you see your children with the guns in their hand. With the money, with the drugs. You ignore it... This is our city, these are our sons. Until you make it personal, we are going to keep losing them."

Up Next:

Up Next

  • Not My Son program aims to stop teen violence in St. Pete
  • Judge, quoting Carly Simon, denies request to move trial so witness can watch eclipse
  • Sundial, Bok Tower Gardens popular for eclipse-watchers
  • Search for female TV thief who struck twice, deputies say
  • Busy MacDill AFB about to get busier
  • Building codes have changed in 25 years since Hurricane Andrew
  • Donate used solar eclipse glasses to kids in South America, Asia
  • Manatee Co. monument brings protesters Monday night
  • Man who hit tow truck driver takes plea deal
  • Elderly woman followed home from store, robbed in driveway