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Knoxville community leaders are pleading for a solution to rise in gun violence

A 17-year-old Austin-East football player was killed in a weekend shooting, making him the 6th teenager to die from gun violence in 2021.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Knoxville Police Department is still investigating a shooting that left a 17-year-old dead on Minnesota Avenue and Pascal Drive in Lonsdale on Sunday

KPD said it received multiple anonymous tips in the death of 17-year-old John John Mathis, but so far, none have led to a possible suspect.

Community leader and UUNIK Academy executive director Reggie Jenkins said the gun violence must stop. He is tired of seeing it time and time again.

"It's sad but it's also frustrating," Jenkins said.

He said he's upset to see another teenage shot and killed, raising the number of innocent people lost due to gun violence in Knoxville.

"At the first death, we should've changed some things," Jenkins said. "second, third, fourth, fifth... now we at the sixth...seven, eight. I mean if you ain't got it by now, I don't know."

In less than eight months, 29 people in Knoxville have died from gun violence. Of those, six were teenagers.

Credit: WBIR

Jenkins said more effort should be poured into preventive measures.

"We be doing the same script for decades," Jenkins said.

He said changes start when city leaders actually listen and act on their word.

"I think every school should have a trauma center, like what these young people experienced in [Austin-East], there should be trauma units in there," Jenkins said.

Both children and parents are facing the trauma of another life lost.

"We need to train parents. A lot of us parents are traumatized and we just don't remedy our internal stuff and we pass it on to our children," Jenkins said.

He said it takes a village to prevent violence.

"Just listen and act on the information you got, and then allow other people to lead," Jenkins said.

If you have any information regarding this case, you can anonymously call East Tennessee Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS.