DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – A stray bullet struck a 13-year-old boy while he was sleeping in an apartment at Bentwood Park on Junction Road just after 11:45 p.m. Wednesday.
Police said this happened during a shootout in the parking lot of the apartment complex and at least 36 shots were fired.
Authorities on scene told CBS 17 at least three apartments and multiple cars were struck by gunfire.
One of those apartments was the home where the 13-year-old boy was shot in the leg.
The father of the 13-year-old boy did not want to talk on camera, but said that the bullet hit the side of their home and flew into the room where his son was sleeping.
He said his son is recovering from his injuries at the hospital.
Another neighbor, Daniel, who did not want to give his last name, said he had fallen asleep on the couch watching television but woke up when he heard the gunshots.
“I thought they were fireworks,” Daniel said. “A few minutes later I saw the police and I saw an ambulance taking the kid out on a stretcher.”
CBS 17 spoke to another family, who did not want to speak on camera. They showed us where a bullet had flown into their living room window, traveled across the room, and struck their wall.
The woman who lives in that apartment said everyone in her family was in bed when this happened and no one in her apartment was hurt.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time a child has been struck by a stray bullet while sleeping in Durham.
Last year, at least two children were struck by stray bullets while asleep in their beds in Durham.
In 2020, 12-year-old Tyvien McLean was shot and killed when a stray bullet flew into an apartment at Cornwallis Road apartments.
CBS 17 asked Durham Mayor Pro Tem Mark-Anthony Middleton what it will take to stop this.
“We have a particular issue in our city and it’s going to call for all answers, all hands to be on deck,” Middleton said.
Middleton said one of the first steps to addressing this problem is filling the more than 80 police officer vacancies at the Durham Police Department.
“When we’re hampered in terms of person power and in terms of capacity, it lengthens the amount of time that we have to investigate leads,” Middleton said.
The city just passed a pay raise for police officers, which Middleton said they hope will help them to recruit and retain more officers.
Middleton said the city has received a significant amount of federal funding to the tune of almost $50 million. The city is looking at what root-cause initiatives to spend this funding on.
“We need to flood our children’s lives with options and things that will make the lives of gun violence and gang violence less appealing,” Middleton said.
CBS 17 also reached out to Durham Mayor Elaine O’Neal for a comment, but we did not hear back by Thursday afternoon.
In December, she said the city is working on a plan to address gun violence that she hopes to have in place within her first 100 days in office. However, she said it’s also going to take folks in the community to do their part. She asked community members to give 2 ½ to 5 hours a week to community service.
Middleton said on Thursday that solving this problem will require everyone in the community to do their part.
“Today is a reminder of the work we have to do, we’ve got a lot of work to do, particularly when it comes to gun violence,” Middleton said.
According to the latest shooting data from Durham police, so far this year 17 people have been shot, and 3 of those individuals have died.
From Jan. 1-29, police said there have been 63 shooting incidents. This means there’s an average of two shootings happening in Durham per day.