Durham families whose homes are struck by gunfire hope ‘violence interrupter’ expansion will curb violence

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — As stray bullets continue to strike homes in 2021, the city of Durham is moving forward with a plan to expand a “violence interrupter” program geared toward curbing gun violence in the Bull City.

In 2020, there were 966 shooting incidents, 318 people were shot, and 33 of those individuals were killed, according to data from Durham Police.

The number of people shot last year is up 41 percent from 2019 when 189 individuals were shot.
On Tuesday evening, one family’s home was struck by a stray bullet on Dupree Street near North Carolina Central University.

“I just all of a sudden heard 4 or 5 gunshots,” said a woman who lives at the home. “We just dropped to the floor.”

She did not want to show her face or give her name, but she said that the bullet came through her wall, hit another wall, and narrowly missed their living room where her husband was watching television.

“Still, it’s two days later, and I’m not processing the fact that I could’ve lost my husband on Tuesday night,” she said. “Bullets come through walls all the time in Durham. Something has to change.”

In an effort to make a change, on Tuesday evening Durham City Council voted in favor of expanding the county’s Bull City United’s violence interrupter program.

This program hires former gang members or individuals with experience in these high crime areas to work as mediators to help stop future shootings.

“If you have people who have relationships with folks who may have been involved in a violent act or shooting and if you can get to them before they retaliate, the proposition is that that can lessen gun violence,” said Mark-Anthony Middleton, a Durham City Councilman.

Currently, there are only six members of Bull City United’s program and they work in two different high crime areas which include McDougald Terrace and in part of the southside community.

But through this expansion, the program will be expanding to Oxford Manor, Cornwallis Road, the Golden Belt District, and an area just south of Downtown.

The $935,488 expansion will allow them to hire 18 new employees which include two new supervisors, eight new violence interrupters, and eight new outreach workers.

Middleton said city officials will be working with the county to start looking for people to hire for the program as soon as possible.

However, right now there is no word when these new boots will be on the ground.

The woman who lives on Dupree Street tells CBS 17 she hopes this new program will help bring down violence.

“Giving it more resources and giving it a chance to work is important,” she said. “I feel like Durham is pretty desperate at this point”

According to data from a city council meeting, the two areas where these violence interrupters have worked have seen a 1.78 percent decrease in gun-related crimes since 2013.

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