NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Within the past eight months, 13 people have died by homicide in Nashville’s Midtown Hills precinct, according to unofficial reports complied by the police department’s crime analysis section.
That’s a more than 333% increase from the three homicides reported by the same time last year, and the most homicides reported in any police precinct this year, based on the Metro Nashville Police Department’s weekly crime initiative book.
Part of the Midtown Hills area includes Green Hills, where on March 27, three children and three adults were killed in a mass shooting at The Covenant School. However, smaller neighborhoods are also seeing the impact of rising gun violence.
In Edgehill alone, there have been at least three homicides so far this year — a 21-year-old found dead on his back porch after gunfire erupted in the neighborhood; a 26-year-old found on a sidewalk with multiple gunshot wounds; and a 38-year-old woman shot at her apartment.
While separated by months, all three shootings happened within less than a mile of each other.
“Recently, I went out there to the neighborhood and I couldn’t believe what I saw,” said local resident and founder of the Edgehill Bike Club Terry Key. “I saw so many kids in the bike club in wheelchairs, paralyzed, shot up, and I’m looking like, ‘What are y’all doing?’”
In addition to a rise in homicide, unofficial reports show the Midtown Hills precinct has seen a 73.3% increase in reports of auto theft, 22.9% increase in rape, 1.9% increase in robbery and an overall 1.7% increase in violent offenses compared to Aug. 12, 2022.
Key has seen firsthand how violent crime “tears a community up.” It’s why he started the Edgehill Bike Club almost a decade ago, to help kids in the “rough neighborhood” better their lives. But within the last two years, Key said he has seen the violence grow worse.
“It tears a community up,” Key said. “When you’ve got violence, killings and people on drugs, it really messes the neighborhood up because they don’t have the resources to get help.”
Although he’s taken a step back to focus on his family and career in the last few years, Key said he still remembers watching Tabitha Oglesby’s five children growing up and flourishing in activities with the Edgehill Bike Club. Her oldest son was the same age as Key’s son at the time.
“I had a chance to put him in Little Chef, Big Chef, taught them how to cook. He graduated from that, and they did a banquet,” Key said. “Tabitha came to watch her son learn how to cook. He turned out to be a little chef. The rest of them, we would ride bikes and I watched them get older.”
On Feb. 19, Oglesby’s 19-year-old son called 911 to report his mother being assaulted. When police arrived at her apartment on 14th Avenue South, they found Oglesby critically wounded by a gunshot. Her boyfriend has been charged with criminal homicide, but the case is still ongoing.
Now without a mother, her children are taking it “day by day.” For many children in Edgehill and other neighborhoods considered to be “rough areas,” Key said it can feel like “they don’t have a way out.” As a kid, he said he experienced that same feeling.
“These kids are amazing. They’re making their own beats; they’re rapping; they’re singing; they know how to do all kind of sorts of things, but they don’t know who to talk to, who to turn to,” Key said. “So, the people they’ve got to turn to are just like what I did when I grew up. The only people I had to turn to were the ones in the hood, in the streets.”
Without a positive influence in their lives, Key said many of those kids fall into cycles of gang violence and incarceration. Key continues to hold some events with the Edgehill Bike Club, but said he believes more action is needed to impact kids in Edgehill and other high-crime areas.
“It doesn’t take money all the time. It takes volunteers. It takes people who care to come out and spend time with these kids,” he said. “These kids need a second chance in life…All the leaders need to come together and quit talking about what they’re going to do and show in action what they’re going to do.”