Study says Tennessee has tenth highest black murder rate in nation

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- According to a new analysis by the Violence Policy Center, Tennessee has the tenth highest black homicide victimization rate in the nation. The rate is 22.40 per 100,000, which is above the national black homicide victimization rate and five times the overall homicide rate nationwide.

The findings are based on unpublished data from the FBI Supplementary Homicide Report, and uses rates from 2012.

The report shows of 246 African-Americans murdered in the state, 84 percent are killed with guns and 74 percent were killed by someone they knew.

Reginald Johnson, whose son was killed on Halloween, said he's not surprised by Tennessee's ranking; in fact, he said he was surprised it's not ranked higher.

"This has really destroyed me. This has really destroyed me.It's been two months and it's just like it was yesterday," he said Wednesday night.

Fighting back tears, he described his life after his youngest son, 21-year-old Samuel Johnson, also known as Teddy, was murdered on Halloween, just down the street from the home in Frayser he grew up in.

"My son just I guess was one of the victims, fell prey to the streets," Johnson said.

Throughout their home, cards and pictures now carry Teddy's memory as his family searches for solace.

"We cry everyday and walking through this house not being able to see him I'm still calling his name thinking he is going to answer," Johnson said.

The devastated father said the violence he's seeing is getting out of control.

"I look at the situation here in this area, and I'm talking about these young black men with guns, and I don't know how they're getting these guns," Johnson said.

Johnson knows he's not the only one hurting - other families of murder victims are experiencing heartache too.

"I'm just so hurt, not only for him but the families that are suffering the same way I am," he said.

Teddy's killer has yet to be caught, but now Johnson is on a mission to create change, talking to law enforcement, the community and politicians, assuring that his son did not die in vain.

Johnson said he and his wife plan to go to Nashville next week to start talking to policymakers to make sure their voices are heard.

"Get something done. I think there needs to be harsher penalties because they're not doing anything. You get caught with a gun, you get slapped on the wrist, and they let you go," Johnson said.

To view the full study, click here.

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