String of shootings in Wilmington are concerning for some city leaders


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Wilmington has seen a string of violence with four shooting reported since Thursday, three of which happened on Saturday alone.

On Thursday, Wilmington Police say a 19-year-old woman was killed in a shooting on South 11th Street.

On Saturday, police were called to three different shootings. One was on South 11th Street, one of East Stewart Circle, and the third happened on Carolina Beach Road. They say two of the three victims were teenagers.

No one has been charged in connection to the incidents.

“It’s scary,” City Councilman Kevin Spears said. “You never know who’s next.”

Spears says everyone needs to get involved in the community conversations, because they can’t solve the problem without talking to the people involved in these incidents.

“We’ve got to have the conversations with people,” Spears said. “True conversations. Not the PC conversations. Real conversations about what’s going to happen, or the expectations of what could happen if you’re involved in a certain lifestyle.”

City Councilman Clifford Barnett says there isn’t one quick fix to the solution. He an Spears say it’s a long-term work in progress the involves a number of different solutions.

“If we can equip people, children, from zero to five, that will help them to make better choices when they get to be 12, 19, 25, 35,” Barnett said.

Barnett also says these shooting concern him and says people need to feel empowered and safe in coming forward.

“The idea of, ‘If I share information with you, it may cause someone to hurt my family.’ I understand that, and I will always pick my family first,” Barnett said. “I will always protect my family. But I hope we develop and build systems where people feel comfortable, they can feel safe sharing what they know.”

Wilmington Police say that’s part of the problem though. Assistant Chief David Oyler says they’ve gotten few to no tips about any of these four separate shootings.

“We have to have community involvement to clear some of these cases,” Oyler said. “Without the community’s help, a person’s loved one will never see justice. They’ll never see the court room.”

Oyler says the department rolled out a new gun enforcement program at the beginning of 2020. He says one of the goals of the program is to build and develop those strong relationships with the community to open the lines of communication.

“One of the things we have to work on and are working on daily, is building that trust within the community to let them know,” Oyler said. “But as long as we can build the trust within the community and let them know we’re here to help, and we’re here for all of its citizens, I think we can get that message out to them.”

Oyler says they had to pull resources away from the program in the spring and summer due to civil unrest in the city, but they are back on track with phase one of the program. He says the first phase focuses on enforcement, and figuring out where issues are.

He says the next phase of the program will involve identifying “community contacts”, or people who are on the cusp of violence but may not have the resources to get out. He says they’ll talk to those people and offer them resources to get out of the situation they’re in.

If you have any information on any of these recent shootings or any other crime in the city, police ask you contact them. You can contact police anonymously through their website tip708.com.

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