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Neighbors push for solutions as Valdosta's violent crime rate rises

Valdosta Police are on the hunt for three teen suspects in a deadly weekend shooting
Posted at 7:43 PM, May 22, 2024
  • Jamar Rashad Wimbush, Tyrell Bolden, and Lutravis Hester are wanted for felony murder, aggravated assault, and firearm possession during a felony in connection to the death of Wesley White Jr.
  • Homicide and gun violence has risen in Valdosta for the last five years.
  • Watch the video to hear from neighbors about the impact of teen gun violence.


Neighbors are working to bring change in the community.

"It's getting very dangerous."

I'm Malia Thomas, your neighborhood reporter in Valdosta, and I'm speaking with neighbors about how they're coping with that rise.

This is Aaron Winston; he's lived in Valdosta for over 30 years and noticed a spike of violent incidences around the area a few years ago.

"The uptick is very high right now; it's an all-time high."

This inspired him to create a nonprofit called Reach Two five years ago, which aims to...

"partner up with all organizations and people in the community to actually generate a village so we can help these kids."

As teen gun violence is a special focus for his nonprofit, he tells me the shooting death of 15-year-old Lowndes High Schooler Wesley White Jr. on May 18th left him devastated; he believes local teens need more activity to help them stay away from guns

"I makes me angry, and it makes me sad at the same time; we don't have nothing really in place to keep them entertained and give them something to do."

Police are searching for three teens—Jamar Rashad Wimbush, Tyrell Bolden, and Lutravis Hester—wanted for felony murder and aggravated assault in connection to White's death.

Gun violence is rising in Valdosta, with 11 incidents already this year. FBI stats show a rise in violent crimes across the board, particularly homicides. Murder rates jumped from 2 per 100,000 people in 2019 to 14 per 100,000 in 2023.

Aaron tells me the best way to stop these incidents is to start at home.

"We just have to be careful in life and learn how to talk to our youth and deal with our youth."

Despite the rise in crime, violent crimes in Valdosta are still lower than the national average. In Valdosta, I'm Malia Thomas, reporting for AVBC27.