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Local teen shares his story after stealing family member's guns, getting caught

A Toledo 15-year-old says he's been around gangs and seen things he didn't want to see. That led him to steal two guns from his family.

TOLEDO, Ohio — A Toledo 15-year-old stole two guns from his family to feel safe, he said. But taking those guns actually made him feel more at risk.

Being around gangs and seeing things he didn't want to see caused him to take the guns, he said.

But with the help of Shawn Mahone Sr, who runs a tough love program called Young Men and Women for Change, he gave the guns back and learned from his mistakes, he said. WTOL 11 is protecting the teen's identity for his safety.

"I had people trying to kill me," the teen said. "I thought if I had two guns, I thought I'd feel safe."

But the thought of being safe and actually being safe are two different things. He didn't learn that lesson until after he stole two guns with the intent of using or selling them.

Mahone said stories like this highlight the need for accountability.

"For the past 17 years we've been doing this program," Mahone said. "We've been screaming over and over again, 'we need some type of accountability program. Our youth need to know what tough love is. Parents also need to be held accountable and know what tough love is.'"

Mahone said the teen went through the "dose of reality" program back in November.

But after that, he kept hanging out with the same groups that scared him.

"People around me had guns. They could have backdoored me and I could have backdoored them, I couldn't trust anybody when I had a gun," the teen said. "Part of it was pressure. I had the feeling to take one, to own one. I wanted to but I didn't know the steps that come with it."

So, he stole the guns in an attempt to alleviate his fears.

"I felt like I was at risk everywhere I went," the teen said. "I crossed the street, I would have to look around everywhere I was at. I was so scared that someone might creep up on me."

Mahone said his goal is that every young man and woman he helps eventually understands that they can still turn their lives around.

"It's more important that we help him understand that we're here to save his life," Mahone said. "We want him to be a productive leader for tomorrow's future. We want him to know that his future is in front of him and not behind him."

The teen said he is now working to change who he hangs out with and is still in contact with Mahone to stay on track with the progress he's made so far.

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