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Neighbors say gangs behind increase in shootings

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- An undermanned Wilmington Police Department is working overtime after another shooting in the Port City.

Meanwhile community leaders say they have had enough, and it's time to stop the violence.

"I've never seen in my life so many African-American males perishing and people are walking around like they're almost oblivious to what is happening to them," said Rev. James Jamison Jr. of Hope Baptist Church for all Nations.

With 48 reports of shots fired in the month of June, including four people shot in the past five days, a crime wave has hit the Port City, and residents say there is no end in site.

"There were two gentleman that were released from prison, and they said they were going to get revenge on whoever it was that ratted on them," said Hampton Colclough, who lives in a neighborhood where a teen was shot and killed last week. "It was Blood on Blood, which is family on family. They're trying to extinguish each other."

To combat the violence, Police Chief Ralph Evangelous is faced with a dilemma: fill the 19 vacancies in his force or have the current force log more overtime hours.

"It's a jungle here," Colclough said. "It's a jungle, and these guys are going wild. They've got more guns than the cops down here. They have more guns than the cops!"

"Why pay overtime when we can get more officers?" Jamison said. "I have noticed the streets in the last couple of days the usual suspects are not hanging out where they usually hangout, because they know there is more officers present, and they're going into their little cubby holes until this storm blows over."

Community leaders are now trying to band together to break the binds of gang violence, not with law enforcement, but with one unified voice.

"I'm African-American, and these are my babies out here dying every day," Jamison said. "Yes, we have a gang problem, but we really have a problem with adults taking responsibility for their children."

Police say they hope to fill the open jobs soon, but it still takes time to train those officers and get them up to speed.

If you have any information on any of the recent shootings in wilmington contact police.

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