WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - District Attorney Ben David said he could not speak directly to the pending case of three teens charged with first-degree murder in a shooting that led to a fatal car crash on Oleander Drive, but he did say his office is working with law enforcement on an initiative to further combat violent crime and gang activity in the Cape Fear.
David said his office, along with the Wilmington Police Department and New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, will be making a presentation about the effort in the coming weeks.
He acknowledged there has been an increase in violent crime in the Port City in recent years, gang-related and otherwise, and said the goal of the new program will be to combine efforts of enforcement, prevention, and intervention.
In particular, he said they want to focus on creating an environment where those who are victimized will report to law enforcement, rather than attempting to get justice themselves.
“What we’re seeing now is where people are taking the law sometimes into their own hands instead of reporting that crime, so today’s victim becomes tomorrow’s defendant. And we’re seeing this, this never-ending cycle of violence,” he said.
Another issue his office has faced is the lack of cooperation among witnesses to crimes.
Both of those issues came to a head in the case of William Springer, who was charged with murdering Montreal Holmes in 2017.
Charges had to be dropped in that case, because the DA’s office could not get witnesses to testify — David even went so far as to say Springer would “get away with murder.”
However, Springer himself was gunned down shortly after being released from jail.
Even in cases where the victim does have a troubled history with the law or was even engaged in illegal activity when they were victimized, David said his office tries to get justice, and they need cooperation.
“We all deserve justice, and everybody is someone’s baby, even if they are in a gang and get shot, even if they are dealing drugs and get stabbed," he said. "Even if they are engaging, in other words, in conduct that is illegal at the time of their own victimization. We speak for them also and they need to report conduct and we need to help them get justice.”