Durham police chief: Gangs responsible for some of 6 shootings in past 48 hours

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Durham Police Chief C.J. Davis confirmed Wednesday that some of the six shootings that have taken place in the last 48 hours are gang-related.

“Based on our preliminary investigative efforts, we believe some of the recent shootings are gang-related, a result of continued retaliation between groups. There is no evidence that suggest the disputes are turf related,” Davis said Wednesday in a statement.

In response, Davis said the Durham Police Department has “began preliminary work” to enhance its gang task force. Durham County Sheriff Clarence Birkhead also agreed to support the effort with additional personnel, the statement said.

“We are all frustrated at the continuation of violence in our community by people who see no other way of resolving their disputes, but through violent confrontation – many times through the use of a firearm,” Davis said.

“It is our hope that directing more focused investigative efforts towards gang members, and other offenders who are responsible, will help to suppress gun violence throughout our City.”

Durham Mayor Steve Schewel laid out four points to help reduce gun violence across the city.

One being recruiting, hiring and training “the best” for the police department.

Schewel said the city is currently amid a 25-year decline in violence. There were 244 shootings in Durham in 2017 and 204 in 2018.

Durham is on pace to match last year’s total, Schewel said.

“Good gun laws” was Schewel’s second point but he acknowledged the North Carolina General Assembly must act in order for that to happen.

He blamed the power of the NRA lobby as to why legislators have not passed stricter gun laws.

Schewel said excellence in response to incidents, such as proper mental health or drug treatment, can help with the city’s violence.

The fourth point was getting at the root cause of the violence. Schewel said having a good job with a good wage and kids having good schools can get to the root of the problem.

“We can not stop talking about the importance of this issue,” Schewel said.

“The last 24-36 hours have been absolutely devastating for our city,” said Mark-Anthony Middleton, Durham city councilman.

Durham shootings timeline

Monday (One dead, four injured)
10:23 p.m.: Two men in the 1200-block of Wabash Street were hit by gunfire as a dark-colored vehicle drove by the pair and began shooting. One man was hit in the hand and the other was shot in the leg.

10:29 p.m.: A woman and two men were at the bus stop near the corner of Liberty and Dillard streets when a dark-colored car drove by and someone inside began shooting at the victims. Kerry Graham Jr., 24, of Durham, was taken to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead. The woman was grazed by a bullet on her hip and the other man was shot in the upper left shoulder.

Tuesday (One dead, three injured)
2 p.m.: Police were called to the 100-block of N. Driver Street, near the intersection with Main Street, in reference to a shooting. Once on scene, officers located 17-year-old Zaeveon Hershel Tucker dead in the front yard of Shepherd’s House United Methodist Church. Tucker was shot at least once in the back when a vehicle drove by and shots were fired from inside.

5:30 p.m.: A man was injured when he was shot near W. Club Boulevard and Watts Street. Witnesses reported multiple shots were fired from at least one vehicle and numerous shell casings were found in the area. Shortly after police responded to the shooting scene, a man and woman arrived at Duke Regional Hospital. The man had suffered a gunshot wound and the woman suffered injuries from flying debris.

11:37 p.m.: Officers arrived at the VA Hospital in the 500-block of Fulton Street and found that no one had been shot, but one vehicle had been struck five times by bullets. A woman was driving the vehicle on Shirley Street near Fulton Street when an unknown person began shooting at her. She was not injured.

11:45 p.m.: The victim said they were driving on Interstate 85 near Avondale Drive when another vehicle came up behind theirs and started shooting. The victim crashed his vehicle and then exited on to Avondale Drive. Twelve bullet holes were found in the vehicle, but the man was not injured.

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