318 people shot in Durham in 2020, city leaders push to expand violence interrupter program

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – After a record number of people were shot in Durham in 2020, the city council discussed plans to expand the county’s Bull City United violence interrupter program on Thursday afternoon

New numbers released by Durham police on Thursday show that there were 966 shooting incidents in 2020, 318 people were shot, and 33 of those shootings were deadly.

CBS 17 asked how many of these shooting incidents from last year had been solved but has not heard back.

During Thursday’s city council work session, the council heard a presentation about different options for expanding the county’s Bull City United Violence Interrupter program.

Currently, the program consists of three violence interrupters and three outreach workers. These individuals either have criminal pasts or ties to crime-ridden neighborhoods, and often times they will get a heads up before a shooting is about to happen.

With current funding, they can only focus on the areas of McDougald Terrace and the Southside community near Hillside Park.

During Thursday’s presentation, the city administration said one option for expanding the program included adding five members and expanding to one other neighborhood. This would cost the city $261,884.

A second option included adding seven members and expanding to two areas at a cost of $363,332.

And finally, the third option included adding 18 members and expanding to four neighborhoods at a cost of $935,488.

The city administration recommended the council go with the second option. Mayor Steve Schewel said he was in support of that option.

“To me, it makes sense to fund these and then see if this is our top priority for that next $600,000,” Schewel said.

But other city councilors said they were in support of investing as much money as possible in expanding the program.

“No matter what we spend money on, we’re going to have to justify those expenditures relative to what we do about this issue of gun violence,” said councilman Mark-Anthony Middleton. “What business is more pressing than protecting the lives of our children in our community?”

Quan Yarborough lives on Bryant Street in east Durham. He said he hears gunfire on a normal basis and one time a shootout happened outside his home.

“I had to get low because the bullets were coming to my yard, so yeah, that was close,” Yarborough said.

Just down the street from Yarborough’s house, flowers mark the spot where his good friend Terry Bradshaw was shot and killed last March.

“If we don’t get a hold of the second generation that’s coming up behind us, I feel like its going to get worse,” Yarborough said.

He said that he thinks expanding the violence interrupter program is a good step toward curbing the gun violence in Durham.

“With the mediators reaching certain people in certain communities, I feel like if those individuals have an opportunity to do something different or see things a different way, I feel like it will scale things back,” Yarborough

The Durham City Council is expected to vote on this matter at the next city council meeting on Jan. 18 at 7 p.m.

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