WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The number of homicides was down in the City of Wilmington in 2019, but gun violence was up, according to police.
“Violent crimes in Wilmington, North Carolina are typically driven by the drug trade. Heroin, mainly, but also cocaine and marijuana,” said Wilmington Police Captain Thomas Tilmon.
He says there are few exceptions to what drives shootings in the city.
“We’ve done some mapping, and over the last 20 years, the isolated areas where these homicides happen are typically in parallel with where vice investigations run at,” he said.
In 2019, there were 146 shootings incidents within city limits, up just slightly from 141 in 2018.
There were seven total homicides, five involving guns, compared to seven homicides in 2018 and 19 in 2017.
“We saw a massive decline, and a lot of that might have had to do with Hurricane Florence,” Tilmon said. “Cause if you’ll recall last year when Hurricane Florence hit, there was really nothing between when Hurricane Florence hit until we had a homicide in Hillcrest last year right before Christmas.”
Tilmon believes several factors contribute to the decrease in shooting deaths.
“The level one trauma center at New Hanover Regional Medical Center probably has a great influence on a higher survival rate. The first aid skills that our officers are employing out in the field with tourniquets,” he said.
The department also has several programs for kids like Cop Camp to discourage them from getting involved in gangs and street violence.
“The hope is always there that maybe you’ll reach one kid,” Tilmon said. “You know our Assistant Chief right now, Donny Williams, was reached when he was a child, who grew up here in the poor parts of Wilmington.”
The total number of shootings with injuries in 2019, including homicides, was 63, compared to 64 in 2018.
That number could change depending on investigations into some December shootings.