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WPD: Void in gang leadership behind rash of violence

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Wilmington Police are trying to figure out if multiple shootings this weekend are connected.

The first shooting in Forest Hills Saturday left a teenager dead. Now police think most of the shootings are gang related.

Police responded to Forest Hills Drive Saturday evening after residents reported hearing several gunshots. Officers found Joseph David Williams, 18, lying in the street dead of a gunshot wound to the back. Police say Williams was riding on the back of a moped with Mark Richie, Jr., 18, when the shooting happened.

Witnesses told police that a grey Honda coupe was following with a passenger firing shots at the two teens.

There have been more shootings since.

Police responded to reports of shots fired near the 900 block of N. 30th Street and Emory Street Sunday night. One witness reported seeing a silver Honda body style car in the area. That matches the description of the car wanted in connection with Saturday's shooting death on Forest Hills Drive.

Early this morning, police say someone fired into a home on Evans Street.

Then officers responded to another shooting at a house at 823 S. 6th Street.

As police searched for suspects, an officer saw a suspicious vehicle near 19th Street and Queen Street that accelerated toward an officer before eventually wrecking near the scene.

Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous says the violence has gone up because of a power struggle between gangs.

"We have recently arrested some high level gang members, gang leaders," Evangelous said. "We believe that has created a void in local gangs."

Evangelous says police are actively working to dismantle these gangs, but change won't happen overnight.

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