Last November, 17-year-old Cedric Clark left his Clayton County home with another teen and never came back.
"And the last thing I told him before he left was, 'Y'all don't be on no stupid junk,'” said his big brother, Anthony Lewis.
Anthony searched all night that night, and he found his little brother's lifeless body behind a house nearby Drew High School where Cedric was a star athlete.
"I was trying to wake him up." Lewis said. "I knew he was gone but I was trying to wake him up." Lewis said.
There are a number of families grieving over the loss of a loved one at the hands of a teen killer. In Clayton County alone — when Cedric was killed in November — he became the fifth person between the ages of 11 and 17 to die from gunfire in a month.
Police said it was gang-related.
Is gang activity to blame?
Law enforcement, lawyers and judges said yes, gang activity is what leads youths to kill. But it's only one of several factors, said clinical psychologist, Dr. Susan May.
"I think sometimes when it comes to teens killing, you can have situations where there is an impulsive act," she said.
In another case, a Mundy's Mill High School senior was gunned down New Year's eve in Jonesboro Park. Police said Cherish Williams and her friends were robbed at gunpoint.
"You can also often have times where there is a lapse of judgment and that can be due to substance use, alcohol, maybe mental illness," May said.
Just weeks ago, Gwinnett police named mental illness as the reason behind the strangulation death of 47-year-old Faith Haynes by her 15-year-old son.
"Apparently there's been an ongoing dispute between the son and the mother regarding the son taking his medication," said Gwinnett Police spokesperson, Deon Washington.
Senior DA: "Offenders... are intentional"
Another 14-year-old Gwinnett County boy was charged with murder in the death of a pizza delivery driver.
Even more disturbing, Reginald Lofton, who claimed he was just the lookout, witnessed the shooting but then scooped up the pizza and still enjoyed it with friends. The judge who sentenced Lofton to life called him a cold-blooded killer.
“In these cases, not only a lack of empathy but they don't even have the internal cue of fear or embarrassment, they're feeling very often very little remorse or guilt,” May said.
Carole Cox, a senior district attorney with Gwinnett County Juvenile Court, recognizes all these reasons, gang activity, mental illness, immaturity, not to mention poverty and broken homes for the uptick in teens becoming killers.
She sees it every day.
"I think most of the offenders we see are intentional and deliberate and it is a way of life and it is the way of life that they enjoy,” Cox said.
Copyright 2017 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.