KAKE NEWS INVESTIGATES SERIES: Kids in Cuffs - Part 1Posted: Updated:
Cooper Carpenter proudly wears number 13 this year on his jersey and around his neck.
He wears it for his friend, and former teammate Deshawn Bradford. "He's always with me on the baseball field, always playing with me. He was the goofball, real hard competetor, wouldn't let anything stand in his way, if he wanted it, he was going to take it," said Carpenter.
Cooper and Deshawn started playing ball together when they were just five years old. Cooper's dad was their coach, he saw something special in Deshawn.
"He played the three toughest positions to master in baseball, pitcher, catcher and shortstop and he was the most talented kid that I'd coached" "and he had remarkable God given ability. He was as talented as they came, and we played not just in Kansas but all over the country at the highest level you could play," said Cooper's dad and baseball coach Gary Carpenter.
But that all ended in December. Deshawn was supposed to be at baseball camp. Instead, police say he and some friends made a very bad choice.
Police say Deshawn and three other boys, ages 16 and 17 carrying guns decided to rob this south side gas station. It ended when a customer pulled his own gun and shot and killed Deshawn.
Kids committing violent crimes is a trend police want stopped.
In 2014 there were 71 kids arrested, some as young as 10 years old for murder, armed robbery and assault with a weapon. Last year that number jumped to 95, but what really stands out is the number of armed robberies committed by children went from 19 in 2017, to nearly 50 last year.
"When you're that young and you're carrying guns or committing crimes with guns, these kids don't really understand the consequences," said Wichita police officer D.L Watson.
Police blame peer pressure, a bad homelife and a need for belonging. Officer Watson gives kids two options, if you make the wrong choice, you end up dead or in jail.
"Sometimes the kids listen and sometimes they don't, but if you get a lot of them one-on-one they're not as tough as they portray themselves to be," said Watson.
With tears in his eyes, Gary Carpenter says Deshawn made the wrong choice that day. Now, he'll never play baseball again. "Couldn't be true. "he was like a son- and uh, it still hurts."
Now as Cooper hits the field. He carries with him, the memories of his friend. A kid he thought he'd see someday playing baseball on TV.
"i wish we could go back and play baseball with him again."