TOPEKA (KSNT) – An early morning shooting left 17-year-old Damayah Calhoun dead. It marks Topeka’s 29th homicide in 2023.

Of the 29 homicides, nine were children. The last four victims were 18-years-old or younger.

“It’s really hard as a mother that we often think ‘that could have been my child,'” PARS Director Mandy Czechanski said. “It’s too close to home and we have a job to really work to help our kids so that they are able to get their lives started. Unfortunately we’ve had too many children lately that their lives have barely just begun.”

Topeka has seen a significant rise in violent crime in 2023, compared to the 18 homicides in 2022.

“We just cant believe what’s going on,” Lorna Boden, Tecumseh United Methodist Church Pastor, said. “We have member churches who have family members who were involved in this. It’s heartbreaking, it’s gut-wrenching, and we want to see something done.”

Some local organizations tell 27 News it’s incredibly sad to see the impact the violence has had in the community. They are working to make a change.

“We continue our work, we’re going to remain diligent in finding the best proven strategy to reduce gun violence for Topeka,” Boden said. “Topeka deserves this. Families deserve this.”

Six of the murders this year are still unsolved.