A shooting at Tempe’s Arizona Mills Mall resulted in a young woman getting shot and injured. A suspect has been arrested in the incident. Voyee Smith, 20 years old, was involved in a dispute and he allegedly began shooting at the group, which included older teens and twenty-somethings. Another gun was fired from the group and during the crossfire, Smith’s girlfriend received a minor injury when a bullet grazed her arm.
The police have not apprehended any other persons involved in the dispute. The altercation began around 6:00 pm on Saturday evening. Smith was with his girlfriend and another female at the east side of the mall. An argument began between Smith and another group near a bus stop, when Smith began shooting and was then shot at by some of the group’s members.
At the time of the shooting, Smith fired multiple rounds. The outdoor Arizona Mills Mall was busy with after-Christmas shoppers. Fortunately, no one else was injured. Smith was charged with unlawful discharge of a firearm within city limits, endangerment and striking an unattended vehicle, Tempe Police Department spokesman Sgt. Mike Pooley said.
Smith’s girlfriend refused to accept treatment for her injury. As Smith was leaving the parking lot area, he shot and hit a parked vehicle. The police were concerned that Smith continued to shoot, even when the group fled the scene. It was unclear if the incident was gang-related. Detectives stated that they were still investigating that aspect of the case.
Police are looking for a dark-colored Dodge Charger with the rear windshield shot out. Otherwise, there is not a lot of information coming forth about the group that fled.
The National Association of School Psychologists, (NASP), have expressed concern for the amount of youth gun violence that occurs in the U.S. They state that existing data clearly points to the need for improved strategies for keeping guns out of the hands of children and youth and those who would harm them. NASP reports that most kids are killed by guns and that almost half of youth suicides are caused by firearms. Here are some alarming statistics nationally:
- In 2010, there were 2,711 infant, child, and teen firearm deaths. On average there were seven such fatalities daily and 52 weekly.
- Between 1981 and 2010, 112,375 infants, children, and teens were killed by firearms. This is 25,000 more deaths than the number of soldiers killed in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, combined (Children’s Defense Fund, 2013).
- Of the 1,982 youth (age 10-19) murdered in 2010, 84% were killed by a firearm.
- Of the 1,659 teens (age 15-19) who committed suicide in 2010, 40% were by firearm.
- Of the 1,323 males (age 15-19) who committed suicide in 2010, 45% were by firearm.
- Of the 336 females (age 15-19) who committed suicide in 2010, 20% were by firearm.
- In 2010, across all age groups (and including adults), there were 31,672 individuals killed by firearms (with 61% of these deaths being suicide and 35% homicide).
According to the Children’s Defense Fund, loopholes in firearm safety laws have reduced their
effectiveness. For example, the Brady Law, which required federal background checks for guns purchased
from licensed retailers, did not require such checks for guns bought through private sales. Private sales comprise approximately 40 percent of firearms sales.
The shooting at Tempe Arizona Mills Mall was just one incident of many in which gun violence plays a part in teenage and twenty-something culture. Finding out how guns are bought by these young offenders may be the first step to disarming those youth who are apt to seek trouble.
By Lisa M Pickering