Durham residents push for at-risk youth programs following recent shootings

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – In the last two days, there have been six shootings in the Bull City that have left two people dead and several others injured.

On Wednesday morning, Durham Mayor Steve Schewel held a press conference alongside other city council members where he talked about the recent shootings.

“There are several things we need to do to make sure we are fighting violent crime in Durham,” Schewel said.

Schewel said that the Durham Police Department is making every effort to find the suspects behind the shootings.

In addition, Mayor Schewel said they plan to call on the legislature to make stricter gun laws and to find the root cause of the problem through improved mental health programs and the affordable housing bond.

However, he said the community likely won’t see any changes occur overnight.

“Root causes are not something that you fix in a day or in a year,” Schewel said.

Schewel also said that adding more police officers is not the answer.

CBS 17 previously reported that earlier this year city council voted not to add 18 more police officer positions.

“If we had 18 more police officers and if we had 9 more police officers, there was not going to be a police officer on Driver Street when that shooting occurred,” Schewel said.

In the old east Durham neighborhood, business owners like Samuel Jenkins are concerned about the recent violence.

Jenkins’ barbershop is just down the road from where a 17-year-old teenager was shot and killed on Tuesday afternoon.

“There’s no way you should see this many shootings in a two-day span, two days,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins said he would like the city to create more community programs for older at-risk youth.

“The police can only do so much,” Jenkins said. “My main concern is these parents, does the city offer a parenting class. The parents need to be held more responsible.”

Reverend John Gumbo is the pastor at Shepherd’s House United Methodist Church.

17-year-old Zaeveon Hershel Tucker was shot and killed on the front lawn of the church on Tuesday afternoon.

Gumbo said that in the coming weeks he will be preaching about the problem with gun violence in the city and what the community can do to end this.

He said he would also like to see there be more community programs for at-risk youth.

“The gun doesn’t shoot itself, it’s people who use the guns to kill each other,” Gumbo said. “How does that happen? Mostly it’s gun violence through gangsters.”

Durham Police Chief C.J. Davis sent out the following statement regarding the recent shootings:

Over the past 48 hours, the Durham Police Department responded to multiple shooting incidents within a very short period of time; two of those incidents were fatal. Three of the incidents involved multiple victims who sustained non-life threatening injuries. First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are extended to the family and friends of those victims who lost their lives to more senseless violence in our City. 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.

We want to assure the community that our top priority is to investigate and solve the recent shooting crimes in an effort to prevent further gun violence, and loss of life. Our gang investigators, and Intelligence Unit, are carefully analyzing these cases and are gathering and sharing information with DPD officers. Additionally, our department is working closely with other local, state and federal agencies to solve these crimes. 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, but have occurred in various Districts throughout the city.

Today we, the Durham Police Department, began preliminary work to stand up an enhanced Gang Task Force, adding additional personnel to meet the demand for greater intervention in addressing violent gang offenders. Durham County Sheriff Clarence Birkhead has also agreed to support this effort with additional personnel. 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.

Lastly, our most effective tool in crime reduction is the assistance we receive from the community. We know there are people in our community who have information about recent crimes. We ask that you call us, and share this information with our investigators. If you elect to remain anonymous, you can call CrimeStoppers at (919) 683-1200. CrimeStoppers pays cash rewards for information leading to arrests in felony cases and callers never have to identify themselves. There are also CrimeStoppers operators who speak Spanish.

Durham Police Chief CJ Davis

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