2021 wrap up: Deputies see drop in crime, New Hanover Co. agencies handle fewer homicides

Law enforcement and District Attorney reflect on violent crime statistics in 2021
Published: Dec. 30, 2021 at 7:25 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - While 2021 was a busy one for New Hanover County law enforcement agencies, leaders report several metrics improved over the last year.

In terms of homicides, the Wilmington Police Department reported 13 victims from a total of ten cases. It’s an improvement from 22 homicide victims lost in 2020. According to WPD, seven of the ten homicide cases in 2021 have been solved.

The New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office handled seven cases this calendar year, and reports a 100 percent clearance rate, having solved each one. New Hanover County Sheriff Ed McMahon also confirmed the unincorporated part of the county saw a 17 percent drop in crime.

In terms of the courts, New Hanover County has had more felony jury trials than any other county in North Carolina. The county has also had more guilty verdicts for felonies returned by jurors than anywhere else in the state.

One homicide is too many and it’ll always be your goal to eliminate all killing but it’s nice to see that trend is moving in the right direction,” said DA Ben David. “We’ve had fewer homicides this year than in years past so that’s a very good thing.”

While the first months of the year were relatively quiet, the city saw tragedy strike in April with a mass shooting at a birthday party on Kidder Street.

“This case is like trying to solve a jigsaw puzzle with no image printed upon it,” said Captain Thomas Tilmon during a briefing this spring.

The Kidder Street triple homicide is one of the WPD cases that remains unsolved.

There’s yet to be any arrests after a driver opened fire on two cousins in late July on 13th Street. The women had no criminal ties and were leaving a family member’s house when they were gunned down. One, an accountant from Wake Forest, Tracey McKoy, didn’t survive.

According to the Wilmington Police Department, the third unsolved homicide happened when officers found 30-year-old Shelton Dwayne Long dead from an apparent gunshot wound in the 4200 block of River Road.

Another high-profile case occurred this summer when deputies with the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office investigated a double homicide at the home of TRU colors COO.

It was solved the next month, but sparked a controversial conversation about the best ways to tackle the region’s gang violence.

“I want peace, I don’t want no violence — my son wouldn’t want that. Just go in peace and love one another,” said the mother of Koredrese Tyson in a press briefing shortly after the murders.

2021 was also a year where many of our region’s children witnessed violence.

Families ducked for cover as bullets flew in May during youth baseball games at Long Leaf Park.

School children at New Hanover High School were led out of the building in single file lines when a student shot another shortly after school started in the fall.

“Around the country and certainly in this district too, we experienced what’s called “pandemic violence” where children lost the protective factor of school and because they weren’t in school, sometimes they were on the street instead and unfortunately we had more violence associated with gang activity and youth violence in general and all of us are hoping that 2022 is a better year,” said David.

Several families also looked on as a murder suicide unfolded at a tennis club just weeks ago. The domestic violence incident was one of two murder suicides WPD responded to in a matter of a month.

Then, deputies were called to step in this November after a 9-year-old girl was cut with a knife and held hostage on Bozeman Road.

“When you talk about the random senseless acts — to try and figure that out — you can’t. It’s evil and I don’t know how you figure it out but what we need to focus on is if there is a crime, when there’s a crime, we do everything right and we get the offenders and arrest them and we let the courts do the rest,” said Sheriff Ed McMahon.

Despite the improved trends, law enforcement and community leaders hope 2022 brings justice and more peace than the year before.

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