WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Wilmington city officials are pleading to the public to open the line of communication between police and the community after the city saw four shootings in a matter of four days.
On Saturday, WPD officers responded to three shootings in just one night. A 16-year-old boy was hurt by gunfire on South 11th Street on the same block as a 19-year-old woman was killed Thursday.
Hours after the teen boy was shot Saturday night, officers responded to shots fired from a speeding car on North 30th Street and found the car abandoned on East Stewart Circle along with an 18-year-old woman who had been shot.
That same night, police were called about a 26-year-old male who showed up at the hospital with a gunshot wound and said he had been shot on Elm Street.
All four shootings are still under investigation and no arrests have been made at this time. Officers cannot confirm whether or not they’re related and say they’ve received little help from the community.
“We have not had a whole lot of tips. Usually we get tips or information come in anytime we have a serious crime of violence; but, for the last homicide, for Shamia Greene, we’ve gotten little to none,” said WPD Assistant Chief David Oyler. “There were people out there but no one has come forward to try to help us piece together the situation and find out what happened.”
One of the major obstacles for investigators is cultivating trust between police and the community, and overcoming the culture of silence.
The fear of retaliation is one very real component as well, which is why police are reminding people that the police department’s technology allows them to stay anonymous when they submit tips.
District attorney Ben David says its critical—even lifesaving—for people to speak out when they know something.
“As a father of young people who are the same age as some of these victims, I can tell you that my heart breaks for any family who receives that call and I promise we’re going to do everything we can in the criminal justice system to see that justice is done. But the only way that we can plea these cases is if we have witnesses to come forward and tell us what happened. We know that there are people out there who can help and we’re encouraging them to do the right thing and come forward,” said Ben David.
City councilman Clifford Barnett says he and the other city leaders are concerned as well. The violence touches far more people than the victim and the suspect.
“You’ve now impacted two entire families and it could be almost for the rest of their lives. They’re all being impacted; we’re all being impacted by this unnecessary violence and I would hope that citizens would find themselves equipped enough to tell what they know in order to help deter some of this,” said city councilman Clifford Barnett.
Barnett believes that change begins within the city’s neighborhoods by focusing on families. He wants parents to talk to their children about the need to have strong values and be a good neighbor.
“I don’t think it’s just a law enforcement’s problem. I don’t think just building new youth centers will stop it, I think we need to do a whole lot of things: parenting, affordable housing, all those issues, they can be a part of the violence that’s happening in our community. So, I think what we need to do is look at some of the systematic, long-term, sustainable programs and activities that we could do,” said Barnett.
Anyone who would like to submit a tip can do so anonymously by visiting www.tip708.com.