DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – City and county leaders in Durham joined in unity Monday afternoon and called for more to be done to address the problem with gun violence after six people were shot — two of them died and four youths were transported to a hospital early Monday morning.
Durham police say all six of the young people were riding in a Hyundai SUV when someone opened fire at their vehicle, and all of them were shot.
A 19-year-old man and a second young person died at the scene, and four other juveniles were transported to the hospital.
The family of a 17-year-old girl riding in the car says their daughter remains in critical condition Monday evening.
“Each death robs our community of a brilliant mind that could help us solve some of our city’s most pressing challenges,” Durham mayor Elaine O’Neal said during a news conference at the Durham Police Department on Monday.
Police said the shooting is not random, but they are still investigating what led up to it.
According to the latest data from Durham Police, 256 people have been shot in Durham this year, and 39 of those people have died. So far, there have been 734 shooting incidents in Durham this year.
CBS 17 asked Durham police chief Patrice Andrews at a press conference what may have been behind the recent shooting, as well as what is behind most of the shootings in the city.
“We don’t really know what’s behind this recent shooting, but we are really working to determine what sparked it,” Andrews said. “Our investigations now are very complex, even the non-fatal shootings that we’ve had, they are very complex and oftentimes witnessed by people. We need people to come forward, because if we get that information, we’ll be able to prosecute.”
CBS 17 then asked Andrews what the solution is for putting a stop to the recent gun violence.
“When you look at what’s happening and how do we stop it, it’s something we have to look at from a 30,000-foot range versus at ground level,” Andrews said. “It’s something we have to look at broader, we really have to look at everything and that totality.”
Nearly one year ago, Durham City Council members passed a plan to expand their violence interrupter program and add 18 more employees who would work as violence interrupters, outreach workers, and supervisors.
Those people are familiar with the crime-ridden areas in Durham and they work as mediators in the community work to prevent shootings.
But since the city council passed the measure in Jan. 2021, over 200 more people have been shot in the city and only 10 of the 18 violence interrupter positions have been filled.
Monday morning’s shooting comes about a month after Andrews took over as police chief and only one week since mayor Elaine O’Neal was sworn into the office.
O’Neal is calling for more to be done in the city to address the gun violence, and she said city officials and law enforcement can’t do this alone.
“While we continue to pray for our city, prayers alone will not solve this problem,” O’Neal said.
O’Neal said she is calling on city and county leaders to create a crime prevention plan that she said will include putting more police officers on the street, finding help for the youth in Durham who need mental health services, and addressing housing instability.
In addition, she is asking businesses to provide internships for young people, and for everyone to volunteer 2.5 hours to five hours a week and work in community service in a neighborhood outside of the volunteer’s normal circle.
“Ending gun violence and homicides in our city must be an all hands-on deck, boots on the ground approach,” O’Neal said.
O’Neal said she hopes to lay out a crime prevention plan within the first 100 days of her administration.