135 people shot in Durham in the last 6 months; city leaders still look for solutions

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — The Durham community is rattled once again after several people were shot outside a business on Fayetteville street just before midnight Thursday.

Police said multiple suspects in two moving vehicles fired shots at a group of people outside a business near Fayetteville Street and Linwood Avenue.

A total of five people were shot, and of those one was critically injured, with the four others stable.

The shooting, which involved several shots, awakened some people in the neighborhood.

“I don’t even know how many shots I heard it was so many,” a neighbor tells CBS 17. “I was thinking about hitting the floor. It was so surreal — I woke up out of a deep sleep and to hear this and see all of this is so overwhelming.”

CBS 17 also spoke to people at a barbershop nearby where a bullet flew through a wall into the business.

Police are still investigating what may have led up to the shooting. Authorities said they are looking for multiple suspects, but they said they didn’t have any information available to release at this time.

So far this year 91 people have been shot, that’s up from the 87 people shot this time last year.

Deadly shootings have almost doubled this year compared to last year as 17 people have been killed this year and nine people were killed at this time last year.

The last time city leaders held a press conference about the rising number of shootings was Nov. 12, 2020, when Mayor Steve Schewel and Chief C.J. Davis spoke about their plan to address the problem.

This included creating a centralized police unit focused on the recent shootings, calling for stricter gun laws, and for more programs geared toward addressing root causes.

Since that press conference, 135 more people have been shot in Durham.

CBS 17 asked Durham City Councilman Mark Anthony Middleton if what the city is doing to address gun violence is working as people are still shot on a regular basis.

“I don’t think there’s enough time from six months after a press conference to gage it,” Middleton said. “I will say that I think we should be doing more.”

In January, the city council approved spending nearly $1 million to expand Durham County’s Bull City United violence interrupter program. The plan was to hire 18 more people and to send more people out to serve as mediators in hopes of preventing future shootings.

CBS 17 reached out to the county to find out how many of those 18 positions have been filled, but we have not received a final answer.

Middleton said that he’ll continue to push for city council to consider approving ShotSpotter, which is a technology that detects gunfire and automatically dispatches officers to scenes.

But that proposal was sent back to city staff for further review several months ago.

But on Thursday, the city council did decide to freeze 15 vacant police positions and potentially hire social workers to respond to mental health calls instead.

While some in the community question why the city would want to take funds away from the Durham Police Department at a time when shootings are up, Schewel said that sending social workers to mental health calls will take some of the workload off officers and allow them to better investigate the recent shootings.

“We need officers to focus on violent crime and have other people in mental health, who specialize in mental health, respond to mental health calls,” Schewel said.

The Durham County Fraternal Order of Police told CBS 17 that even though the police positions they could cut may be cut are vacant, they said that funding is still used to pay officers overtime to make sure shifts are covered.

The police group said that if positions are cut, it could make it hard for the police department to make sure that shifts are covered.

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