‘We failed that family’: Teen’s death ignites efforts to end violence

Special Reports

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — One Nashville community leader says he’s working on fixing a problem that has been failing area youth, but he needs help.

“I have preached the funeral of 58 young men who have been murdered in this city,” said Frank Stevenson, Senior Pastor at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, “Looking in the eyes of those parents who sat on the front row; seeing the hurt and the pain; it’s something that has continued to stay with me.”

Stevenson said each of those families have their own tragic story. With so many different factors behind youth crime, he believes it will take programs, community leaders, and community support in order to reduce it.

“Any youth should have a sense of feeling safe, and I feel like we failed that family, when I say we I mean the entire city. We failed that family.”

Stevenson is talking about the family of 18-year-old Steven Shelton. Two years ago, Shelton was shot in cold blood and left for dead outside a Nashville hospital. The horrific murder was committed by a 15-year-old, according to Metro Police.

Investigators said Shelton was sitting in the passenger seat of a car at the Cumberland View Public Housing complex November of 2019. The driver of the car was not inside when police said Shelton was shot. The driver came back to the vehicle and drove Shelton to the General Hospital, where Shelton was left at the front door.

In November of 2020, Metro police arrested and charged Zyshawn Lewis in the murder of Shelton.

May 11, 2021, police announced they are searching for a second suspect in the shooting. Detectives said Crime Stopper tips and video surveillance led them to identify Rico Ransom, 17, as a second suspect who also fired shots.

According to Metro police, that wasn’t the first time either teen committed a violent crime.

Police said Lewis fired shots in the direction of the North Precinct Police Building. The shots cause an officer to dive to the ground. Aggravated assault on a police officer was added to his criminal homicide charges.

In 2018, when Ransom was 14, he’s accused of shooting and injuring another teen outside Pearl Cohn High School.

“We shouldn’t wait until these individuals have interaction with juvenile court or those places, when we know there are some young people that need some extra love,” Pastor Stevenson added, “They need the community to wrap their arms around them.”

He said if community leaders don’t come together and create a plan, then he worries juvenile crime could hit an all-time high during the summer months.

Stevenson said he plans on continuing to comfort families who have lost children to gun violence, as he hopes a turning point is right around the corner.

Again, Metro police are still looking for Rico Ransom. Anyone with information is asked to contact our partners at Nashville Crime Stoppers at 615-742-7463. Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and may qualify for a cash reward.   

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