City leaders react as Wilmington police investigate five shootings over eight days

Two people are dead and seven people have been shot in those five shootings over the past two weeks.
Published: Sep. 5, 2023 at 6:25 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The Wilmington Police Department is investigating five shootings that happened across the city between August 26 and September 2. This includes the shooting of three people on Rutledge Drive during a home invasion, a deadly shooting involving minors on Meares Street, and a deadly shooting over the weekend on Stewart Circle.

Wilmington Police Lieutenant Greg Willett says none of the recent shootings across the city are connected.

“Rutledge Drive, that was a drug house. That was a known drug house. That was absolutely, 100% drug related. We do know that. We’re working on solving that one,” said Willett. “Meares Street was sad. I mean, any shooting is sad, obviously. But that particular one on Meares Street in the 500 block, that was domestic-related involving teenagers. And Stuart Circle, you know, that’s going to be street violence.”

A 16-year-old is charged with second-degree murder in the death of his 17-year-old girlfriend in the Meares Street incident on August 31.

The city’s police department calls on the community to bring an end to the string of deadly shootings.

“With a lot of these violent crimes, they usually stem from something that’s been brewing, some sort of confrontation or argument,” said Willett. “And a lot of times folks will know that something is about to happen. Let’s stop it before it happens.”

Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo says despite the city’s efforts, gun violence continues to be an issue.

“Any kind of death is bad for our community, and our police officers do a tremendous job out there trying to solve these crimes as quickly as possible and get in front of this stuff,” said Saffo. “But you know, from time to time, these things kind of explode out of nowhere and you have to be prepared for it.”

Saffo believes the city could benefit from more police officers and community engagement.

“I still feel this is a very safe city, but we’re constantly always looking for ways to improve, constantly looking for ways to hire more police officers and make sure that they’re on the street and constantly engaging our young people to make sure that they’re on the straight and narrow and take the right road instead of the wrong road.”

Wilmington City Councilman Clifford Barnett shared a statement with WECT in response to the recent violence across the city.

“I am very concerned too about the violence in our City and Country,” Barnett said. “The recent events are under investigation. We must continue to be vigilant about getting guns out of the wrong hands.”

Excluding the Meares Street shooting, no arrests have been made and no suspects have been named in the shootings that happened in Wilmington over the last two weeks.

If you have any information on these incidents, you can call WPD at 910-343-3609 or use the anonymous Tip 411 app.