DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – On Wednesday morning, a grandmother who lives at McDougald Terrace sat outside her apartment and watched as police officers were investigating another incident, which she said is happening too often.
She doesn’t want us to show her face or reveal her name, but did talk about what its like to live with constant gunfire at this public housing complex.
“We’re lying in bed. It’s always when you least expect it,” she said. “It’s like you’re in a war.”
She said she often hears gunfire at night, but two people were shot in two separate daytime shootings within the last week.
“You hear people screaming and you try to make sure that you’re safe,” she said. “You’re ducking, you’re praying to God nobody got hurt.”
According to the city of Durham’s community crime map, there were at least 60 aggravated assaults that happened within a half-mile of the McDougald Terrace housing complex in 2021.
The map showed there have been at least 10 aggravated assaults at McDougald Terrace since the beginning of 2022.
According to the Durham County Gang Reduction Strategy’s most recent gang assessment, McDougald Terrace is located in the most dangerous area of the city, which is census tract 14.
“It’s so close to North Carolina Central University, and it’s also close to Durham Tech and it’s also close to a lot of single-family homes,” said Jim Stuit, manager for Durham County’s Gang Reduction Strategy.
According to the gang assessment there were 2,545 aggravated assaults/homicides per 100,000 persons from 2018 to 2020 in this census tract.
The citywide average for aggravated assaults/homicides per 100,000 persons from 2018 to 2020 was 338.
Stuit said 73 percent of the households in census tract 14 are headed by a single parent. Also, Stuit said the average income per capita in census tract 14 is $9,943, whereas the average income per capita in the city is $36,045.
“I would say that’s a big problem especially for the youth who are experiencing that,” Stuit said.
Stuit said in the 12 most dangerous neighborhoods, youth are at risk of turning to gangs because of a high dropout rate and a lack of job opportunities.
Stuit said the county’s gang reduction strategy is focused on expanding programs for at-risk youth and the county is working to hire more violence interrupters who will work in these neighborhoods to prevent shootings.
People who live in McDougald Terrace said they would like to see more be done to address the problem with gun violence.
“There’s a lot of grief here and there’s a lot of hurt here that needs to be addressed,” Stuit said. “We need to bring resources in on a continuous basis to show them how to do things different.”