Ex-gang member pledges to end gun violence in his Jacksonville community

Jacksonville had more than 160 shootings last year, many of those involving teens and young people, according to Action News Jax records.

An ex-gang member made it his mission to prevent youth gun violence in the Moncrief and Ken Knights Communities.


Nate Thomas, better known as Uncle Nate, teaches kids about the harsh reality of gun violence. He started doing this when his son was killed due to gun violence.

Founder of Waterfront Outreach, Nate Thomas said, “There’s not too many people that get shot in the head and live to talk about it.”

Nate Thomas, or Uncle Nate, is a former gang member who knows all too well the impact gun violence and gangs have in the Northwest Jacksonville neighborhoods.

According to Florida Health Charts, 132 Deaths from homicide by firearms were recorded in Duval County in 2022.

He also knows how fortunate it is he didn’t become a statistic.

Nate, said, “God pulled me away from that because I could have lost my life on several different occasions.”

Uncle Nate was shot seven times, with two bullets grazing his head. But he said losing his son made him change his life after he was shot in the back over an argument with another person.

So, Uncle Nate launched his nonprofit, Waterfront Outreach, to expose kids to a better life outside of gun violence.

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Nate, said, “Teaching them how to swim, partnerships, take care of themselves, hygiene, and different things to help them.”Waterfront Outreach has been running for six years, helping over 600 young adults.

Telvontate Palmer was one of them

.Palmer said, “I’m very grateful for Nate. I tell him every day I see him. I appreciate him for being life.”Uncle Nate helped convince Palmer to get away from the crowd.

Palmer said, “Friends of mine that I used to hand around before then. They broke into someone’s house. They later shot me in front of my grandmother’s house.”Now, Palmer has a degree in culinary arts. He also works with Uncle Nate.

Tyrone Thomas said, “I ended up taking someone’s life. I did 14 and a half years in prison.”He also learned from his youth’s mistakes, with Uncle Nate’s help.

Now, he owns a business called Mr. T’s Tree Service. It’s been up and running for 21 years.

Uncle Nate said we must take guns out of the hands of kids and teach them life lessons.

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