ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) – A local teen accused of going on a random shooting spree that nearly paralyzed a woman was receiving help to overcome an upbringing surrounded by violence.
Peace Education Director Joshua Saleem runs workshops at several schools, teaching teens how to deal with and prevent violence in their communities. That’s where he met 18-year-old Jayven Moose, a smiling student he never thought would find himself behind bars.
Saleem explains, “He showed potential as a leader, and so I really wanted to invest in him and develop that.” Last summer, Saleem took Jayven and another student to Washington, DC, where they met with Congressman Lacy Clay and Senator Claire McCaskill. The group brainstormed ways to end the cycle of violence in St. Louis.
“They were able to articulate their experiences of growing up in neighborhoods where you hear gunshots every night,” says Saleem, “I think that was a transformative experience for him.”
But two Sundays ago, four teens in a gray van shot up homes, cars and a business through south St. Louis. Then they robbed a man and shot a woman in the back of the neck. Police believe Jayven was one of those teens. He’s now charged with 16 counts, and faces anywhere from three years to life in prison.
Saleem laments, “It was heartbreaking because I know him to be a good kid, and it was just sad to see the mug shot.”
This past fall, Jayven was sent from his magnet school to an alternative school, which his mentor feels could have been his downfall. With the 18 year-old now in jail, Saleem’s mission is even clearer. He explains, “I mean, this situation, if anything, has increased my drive to do what I do in the schools, so that kids like Jayven aren’t pushed out into the streets where they’re more likely to get involved with situations like this.”
Meanwhile, Jayven’s mother strongly believes her son is innocent, and says he has an alibi. Still, she insists on loving and supporting him, no matter the outcome. Saleem also wants to continue to support Jayven, and plans to visit him in jail as soon as possible.