WPD, Sheriff’s Office, DA express shock at the alarming amount of gun violence among youth
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Wilmington Police Chief Donny Williams, New Hanover County Sheriff Ed McMahon, and District Attorney Ben David held a joint media briefing Monday evening and announced arrests in connection with a shooting at Break Time Billiards last month.
Wilmington police say a juvenile was injured in the shooting following “some type of dispute” which occurred on Friday, Feb. 26. Investigators said nearly two dozens shots were fired during the incident.
“It has become a nearly nightly occurrence for our officers and deputies to encounter an armed individual when they’re out there trying to do their jobs,” said Chief Williams as he opened the press conference. “I’ve been in this business nearly 29 years and I’ve never seen anything like this.”
“Record breaking gun violence experienced across the country is thought to be due to the pandemic. In the last 30 days, the City of Wilmington received 91 firearms connected to 38 cases. New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office seized another 45 firearms over the past few weeks,” said Williams who said he has never seen anything like this.
Two back-to-back shooting incidents that happened in the last week of February were highlighted.
One involved a WPD officer that Shotspotter picked up on February 25 where the vehicle of a plain-clothes officer in the 900 block of Hanover Street was struck by gunfire. No-one was injured and several suspects were identified in a nearby home. Firearms and marijuana were seized. Two male juveniles have since been charged.
The second incident was on February 26 at Ten-Pin Alley. One juvenile was injured and has since recovered. A 20-year-old, Olajuwon Moore, and an 18-year-old, Isiah Lewis, were arrested and charged and two juvenile males have additional charges pending.
“We need parents, peers and community members to step in and talk to kids,” said Williams. “Prevention and intervention have to be community effort.”
District Attorney Ben David said the incident where the officer was fired upon is the highest priority for prosecution.
He said that the DA’s office works hard to give mercy to young people where possible.
“But, there are no excuses for guns used against law enforcement officers,” said David
David said that the new Department of Juvenile Justice opened recently to help rehabilitate youth and for them to be tried as youth not adults.
He also said that many guns acquired by children are from adults who buy guns from pawn shops for them.
“Law enforcement will seek to prosecute these people,” said David.
David added that children are also known to steal guns from parents, grandparents and other law-abiding citizens who are leaving guns in unlocked cars and in open view in homes.
Oftentimes, when young 19 or 20 year-olds are stopped by police, they are giving their guns to 16 or 17 year olds who then get a lesser charge.
“We have a responsibility as a community to stem the supply of these guns,” said David. “If you are going to be bringing guns into this community...if you’re going to be firing at officers, I’m going to try you as adults and I’m talking to 14 and 15-year-olds, not only 16 and 17 year olds.”
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