Durham community demands solutions to gun violence as city averages 2 shooting incidents a day

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — People in Durham are demanding more transparency between the city and police as gun violence continues to surge in the Bull City.

This year in Durham 55 people have been shot and 7 of those have died. That’s up from the 51 people shot last year and the six who had died.

There have been 162 shooting incidents in 2021, which averages out to about two per day since the beginning of the year.

Two of those shot in Durham this year include two children who were hit by gunfire while they were sleeping, in two separate incidents.

RELATED: Family of Durham girl shot while sleeping calls for police to step up efforts when investigating shootings

An 11-year-old boy was wounded by a drive-by shooter while he was sleeping at a home on Thornwood Drive on Jan. 22 around 1:30 a.m.

And just this week, a 13-year-old girl was injured by a drive-by shooter while she was sleeping at her house on Weldon Terrace around 4 a.m. Wednesday.

The girl told CBS 17 at first she didn’t realize she had been shot.

“I woke up and I saw this hole,” she said. “They (her parents) came in the room and my dad said I was shot.”

The bullet flew through her family’s front door, traveled through the house, and went through her bedroom wall — just inches above her head.

She was struck in the thigh, but she is going to recover, officials said.

Community activists are angry after hearing that another innocent child in Durham had been shot.

“You can’t even sleep in your bed or take a nap without worrying about a stray bullet coming into your house,” said Robert Belcher, a Durham community activist and founder of A Chance 2 Change.

Belcher questions if the city is keeping the community informed enough about the recent gun violence. He said some of the recent shootings appear to take more priority over others.

“Some people didn’t even know a 13-year-old child got shot yesterday but everyone knew a police dog got shot, and I think that’s a problem,” Belcher said. “I don’t think a dog’s life trumps a child’s life. I just don’t see that.”

CBS 17 brought this concern up about a lack of transparency between the city and the community to Durham Mayor Steve Schewel.

“I would say you’re totally wrong, I think that our transparency is fantastic,” Schewel said. “I have never seen a more transparent police department. Here I am, answering your questions. I’ve been on with you many times and our police department has as well.”

But Belcher argues that the community still doesn’t know what the city plans to do to address the problem with gun violence.

“If they’re taking it as serious as they need to, we’re not hearing about it,” Belcher said.

Schewel said the Durham Police Department is actively working to catch those behind the recent drive-by shootings and he said gun laws need to be stricter in North Carolina.

Schewel said the expansion of Bull City United’s Violence Interrupter program will help reduce crime. But it’s been two months since the city approved the nearly $1 million expansion to hire more violence interrupters and outreach workers, and those staffers have not been hired yet.

On Monday, the Durham Board of County Commissioners will be approving an interlocal agreement to work with the city on the expansion of this program.

However, the earliest those new boots could be on the ground is late spring or early summer.

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