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Chief says witness list caused spike in violence

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Monday Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous revealed what the department believes is behind the crime wave in the Port City.

Chief Evangelous said a list of people who have talked to investigators got into the hands of gang members and caused the uptick in violence.

Police said gangs have known about the list since June. They say the list was produced during discovery from a case this past summer.

Wilmington's top cop would not get into specifics but did say the list was used by prosecution then somehow went to defense attorneys, and the ended up with the gangs.

He said the violence is retaliation on those who talked to police.

"We are dealing with the aftermath of it now and now these gangs-- it's kind of self-perpetuated itself," said Evaneglous.

In hopes of controlling the violence, WPD asked the city to pass an ordinance to create a gang investigative unit.

WPD said the unit would work to figure out how these gangs are structured within the community and how to dismantle them.

The chief said there are 125 gang members in jail and potentially hundreds more on the streets.

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