St. Pete police exploring theory behind murders

Posted at 4:43 PM, Dec 30, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-30 16:43:41-05
Since November, we've met too many grieving mother's and loved ones of young men murdered in south St. Petersburg.
They all have been shot. Residents have called it a turf war between rival gangs. Police are looking into that and now another developing theory.
"We do have a problem with increases in auto theft and increases of theft of guns," said Mike Puetz with the St. Petersburg Police Department.
The numbers, crunched by St. Pete detectives, are staggering, especially looking at the ages of the criminals.
Puetz said 75 to 85 percent of auto thefts are committed by teens ages 10 to 19. Combine that with the rise of stolen guns from the cars.
Puetz said just this year 300 weapons were stolen, more than a third from vehicles.
"We believe these cars are being utilized in some of these shooting situations and some of have resulted in homicide," Puetz said.
Evidence on the theory came to fruition just this past weekend, with the shooting death of 17-year-old Jaquez Jackson, killed while riding in a stolen car. Police believe the suspect or suspects who shot him were also in a stolen car.  
"What we know is you take the combination of a gun and someone with a young mind and someone that is very emotional and fights that used to result in just an exchange of fists have turned into gun battles," said Puetz.
Police are trying to communicate the message at a teen's level even launching a PSA using the popular “Star Wars" movie theme.
"We have to find a way to stem the stream of guns that are making their way into these young hands," said Puetz.
Police stressed everyone can do their part. If you have a gun and choose to take it in your car, secure the weapon. 
Detectives said to close all windows, lock doors, and take the key.
These three simple steps could be the key to all of our safety and sparing another mother grief.