KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Police continue to look into two Kalamazoo shootings that sent a total of three teenagers to the hospital Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, sparking questions as to why gun violence continues to involve such young suspects and victims.

In the Tuesday night shooting, the victim was 13 years old. Hours later, the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety said officers saw a 17-year-old suspect shoot and injure another 17-year-old. Then, officers chased the 17-year-old suspect, firing a shot and hitting the suspect with a police cruiser.

While police have yet to say whether the shootings were related, local community activists, like Jeff Fry of Str8 Motivation, believe there is a common theme.

“(Gun violence) has heightened in a way that is unbelievable,” Fry said.

Data from KDPS reflects Fry’s sentiment. In 2023, the number of juvenile-involved Kalamazoo shootings with victims hit by gunfire has already surpassed last year’s tally. As of Thursday, 12 of the 57 shootings in 2023 involved teenagers, compared to 11 of 77 in all of 2022.

“All of us are sitting out here trying to come up with ideas of what we can and can’t do about this gun violence,” Fry said.

He said he understands the reality of gun violence, telling News 8 he knows the 13-year-old survivor from Tuesday night’s shooting.

“I know he’s not a bad kid, so it actually hits hard and then you actually know other individuals that are involved in it,” Fry explained. “It’s hurtful to actually see the ones that you know are the ones that get hurt, too.”

Fry and his fellow activists at community organizations like ISAAC and Boots on the Ground say curbing the violence requires many ideas, not just a one-size-fits-all approach. One needed tool, they say, is empathy: asking kids and teenagers what is wrong and listening to them.

“Every individual that may be carrying a gun or doesn’t have a gun but is involved in gun violence — there is something that they’re dealing with that’s traumatizing them,” Fry said.

Activists argue community healing by meeting young kids and teens where they’re at should not be confined to events. It should also be at schools, they say.

“A lot of these young people don’t have male mentors that they can actually come to and know that someone cares about them, someone is there to be like, ‘Okay, I’m here just for you,'” James Pitts, who oversees Boots on the Ground, said.

Urban Alliance Executive Director Terra Bautista agreed, adding that the organization believes “that transformation is possible for everyone, especially when they have someone that will meet them where they are and walk alongside them while instilling hope.”

While it may take time, they all say a unified front is necessary to set the tone and win the fight.

“We all are one and we all have a common goal. We all have a common cause, and that is to curb this gun violence some way, somehow,” Fry said.

KDPS is still investigating exactly what led up to the two shootings. There is no suspect information in Tuesday night’s shooting. The officers involved in Wednesday night’s shooting have been placed on administrative leave, including the officer who hit the suspect with their squad vehicle.

Anyone with information is encouraged to contact KDPS at 269.488.8911 or Silent Observer at 269.343.2100.