The calendar turned to spring and violence erupted. In a single weekend, the U.S. experienced its largest scale of mass shootings in more than two years, and there were numerous other shooting incidents with victims who didn't have to die.
Special Agent David Booth, with the Denver ATF office, says there is a surge in violent crime.
“Last couple of years there has been a very strong anti-police sentiment and I think that police departments have pulled back in fear of becoming the criminals themselves for doing their jobs and I think that’s emboldened a certain few people in this country to commit violent crimes," Booth said.
“It is connected to COVID but it’s also connected to a lot of the societal struggles that our systems are going through, primarily law enforcement," said Christina Amparan, who is with the Aurora Youth Violence Prevention Program. “And so we have seen, not just in Colorado but across the country, there is a trend where there is a reduction in youth being contacted by law enforcement.”
Less involvement with at-risk children equals more opportunity for them to get involved with criminal behaviors, experts say.
“There is not enough supports or interventions in place, or processes in place, to intervene at that early age in time to keep them from reaching that higher risk factor or them getting involved in some of the violent behaviors," Amparan said.
Experts believe access to guns is a major problem.
“Unfortunately policymakers across the country have made it easier to get access to guns, not harder and that has created more violence in our country," claimed Kiersten Stewart, who is with Futures without Violence.
She points out, specifically, violence with youth goes beyond that.
“For the first time ever, the national sexual assault hotline reported that more children than adults were calling them for help," Stewart said.
President Joe Biden released his budget, which includes significant increases in programs for community violence and youth violence intervention.
Stewart believes there must be immediate implementation before things get worse.
“We need to invest younger in terms of helping kids both address the impacts of violence or trauma that they may have witnessed or experienced," Stewart said.
Adult support, school involvement and community intervention are just a few solutions Stewart says will help.
“There are things we can do right now to reduce the amount of violence in our communities this summer, but we have to make the commitment, we have to have the political will, and we have to put the resources into it," Stewart said.