Durham City Council addresses record number of homicides at meeting but no solutions discussed

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Durham has had 43 homicides so far this year, surpassing its 2016 record.

Outgoing Durham Mayor Steve Schewel briefly acknowledged the violence at Monday night’s council meeting.

“Last week was a terrible week for gun violence in Durham again,” Schewel said. “While we know this is a national phenomenon driven by the pandemic, that is cold comfort. Every bullet rips a hole in a family, a neighborhood, and in our entire community and we cannot rest until this gun violence has ended.”

Neither Schewel nor the council discussed solutions. Schewel said incoming Mayor Elaine O’Neal has ideas about how to combat gun violence.

Before Monday’s council meeting, Durham’s Community Safety and Wellness Task Force had a violence interruption roundtable, looking at the role violence de-escalation groups like Bull City United can play in reducing violence in the city.

Dr. Wanda Boone said the task force is also developing a pipeline of social services, ranging from education to healthcare and economics.

“When all put together, we’ll have a network and a safety net so that we can prevent violence rather than looking at how we can intervene, so the end goal is to prevent violence and finding innovative ways to do that,” Boone said.

The task force’s co-chair Marcia Owen said 35 percent of fatal violence in the city is between people who know each other. Owen said that gives an opportunity to intervene.

“How are we to develop relationships, and also just skills, that allow us to mediate conflict in a way that is not violent?” Owen said.

Two people were shot and killed in Durham over the weekend. Kaleak Sanford, 24, was shot and killed in a shooting on Lednum Street.

Rick Phillips was his former basketball coach and mentor.

“His smile was just one that everybody loved and there’s a lot of people in our organization that are missing him,” Phillips said.

Phillips said it’s not the first time he lost a former player to gun violence. He runs Mr. Rick’s Ballerz, a basketball program. He said he believes kids being involved in extracurriculars can help.

“I think if we can just reach them early and show them another side of what they see, I think we can win against this,” Phillips said.

Durham police said a minor was killed in a triple shooting on Drew Street Friday.

Durham’s new police chief Patrice Andrews was not at Monday’s council meeting. CBS 17 reached out for an interview with her to address homicide numbers but has not heard back.

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