NEWS

'Enough is enough:' Uptick in gun violence warrants help from communities, sheriff says

Staff Report

An uptick in shootings in the past month has Iberville Parish Sheriff Brett Stassi asking residents to do their part to curb crime.

While none of the shootings has been fatal, Stassi says the unwillingness for parents, siblings or friends to report teen violence remains a problem.

Iberville Parish Sheriff Brett Stassi

“They fear repercussion,” Stassi said. “We’ve had an uptick in shootings, and thank God nobody has been killed, but it’s time for the community to stand up and call out the shooters.

“The victims need to stand up. This time, they survived, but the next time they may not,” he said.

The law enforcement officers in communities throughout the parish have done all they can to help curb teen crime, he said.

“Law enforcement has had enough, and when the community has enough, maybe we will find some heroes to come forward,” Stassi said. “It’s time for the community and community leaders to stand up and say that enough is enough.”

It's not the only youth issue that concerns the sheriff.

Across the nation, the teen suicide rate among girls increased 50 percent in 2021, according to the CDC.

The Iberville Parish School Board recently brought the issue to students in grades 9 to 11, through the film “My Ascension” that documented a girl’s suicide attempt.

“I want to thank the School Board for putting up the funding to bring it to the 9-11 graders throughout the parish,” Stassi said. “I think that’s a big step, and I applaud the efforts.”

The film documented a suicide attempt that left 16-year-old varsity cheerleader Emma Benoit paralyzed.

It also led her to use her painful experience to help others fined hope and shed more light on the fact that 20 young people every day die by suicide in the United States.

It also documents two young people who did not survive their attempts. The film features first-hand accounts from their families, friends, school officials and suicide prevention experts about the effects of suicide and what can be done to prevent it.

“It’s a problem, and these cellphones and being able to text message hateful things you’d never tell anyone to their face make it that much worse,” Stassi said. “They can destroy you with push of a button.”