Police chief, pastors ask gang members to cease fire for 90 days - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Police chief, pastors ask gang members to "cease fire for 90 days"

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Police Chief Ralph Evangelous, clergy members and community supporters made a plea Thursday morning for gang members to cease fire for at least 90 days. Police Chief Ralph Evangelous, clergy members and community supporters made a plea Thursday morning for gang members to cease fire for at least 90 days.
The number of reported shots fired in the Wilmington area is at a high for 2013. The number of reported shots fired in the Wilmington area is at a high for 2013.

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Two people are dead, three have been injured, and the number of close calls is too high to count accurately at this time. All are a result of gun violence.

To boot the shock factor of it all, these statistics, which have been called "unprecedented" in the city of Wilmington, are all from the single month of June.

More than 65 shootings have been picked up by Shot Spotter technology so far this month, and at least 20 calls were made in just one weekend.

Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous said authorities are dealing with gangs on two sides of town who are both claiming to be of the same "Blood" affiliation. He attributes most of the recent violence to retaliations for previous crimes.

Thursday, Evangelous, clergy members and community supporters are held a cease fire conference in the Hillcrest community. They're asking gang members to cease fire for 90 days.

Pastors plan to have several events aimed at helping gang members during that time.

"The way to make it work is through relationships, because the person who's going to actually encourage a gang member is the person he loves or is related to," said Pastor Clifford Barnett of Warner Temple AME Zion Church. "Could be his grandmother, mother, or girlfriend. You get them not in the mist of the shooting, but when they're sitting home watching TV."

Chief Evangelous said he reached out to the pastors because he's hoping they remind people in the community about the moral responsibility to do the right thing and tell police information they have when a crime is committed. 

Evangelous believes as older gang members age out, younger ones are replacing them.

"They age in very young. Thirteen or fourteen years old and are very violent," said Chief Evangelous.

Currently, off-duty police officers are working overtime at night to patrol neighborhoods where there's been in increase in violence. According to Evangelous, that's just the first step his department is taking to crackdown on gang activity.

"That's our stabilization phase. Next is our mobilization phase, we're going to go into enforcement mode," added Evangelous.  

At Thursday's cease fire conference, it was announced since January they have been 270 reports of gunshots in Wilmington. Police say, those shots were picked up by Shot Spotter technology or reported by people who called 911. 

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