NASHVILLE, TN — A bill to toughen the penalty for those charged with hurting or killing children during a drive-by shooting passed the State House of Representatives today.
The JaJuan Latham Act increases the penalty for an aggravated assault or homicide that occurs by a person discharging a firearm from within a motor vehicle and the victim is a minor at the time of the offense.
The bill is named in honor of 12-year-old JaJuan. He was gunned down in what police have called a gang-related drive-by attack on a crowd of people attending a birthday party at
Danny Mayfield Park in Mechanicsville in 2016. The measure’s sponsor, Democratic Representative Rick Staples of Knoxville, said the bill has special meaning to him: “JaJuan’s grandmother helped raise me growing up in Knoxville and I’m so grateful to the bipartisan efforts of my fellow Representatives and Governor Bill Lee. I hope this can begin to give the family some semblance of peace.” The bill is expected to be heard in the Senate later in the week.