Local News

Durham Police On Hot Seat After Shootings; Chief Deflects Criticism

Posted July 3, 2003

— The Durham Police Department is working two murder cases with young victims.

The latest happened Tuesday night in the parking lot of a convenience store. A 15-year-old boy was shot and killed. A 17-year-old girl was shot in the shoulder, but her injuries were not life-threatening.

Police did not say if the shooting was a gang-related drive-by shooting. But they are looking for a white or grey minivan.

In the other case, a Virginia man is still on the loose, wanted for storming a house and shooting four people, including two children. One of the adults died.

The recent shootings have contributed to negative attention that has hit the Durham Police Department. Chief Steve Chalmers is doing his best to deflect the criticism and stick up for his officers.

When Greene was gunned down, he became Durham's 13th murder victim this year.

"What's happening in Durham is not unique to Durham," Chalmers said. "When you start looking at gangs, it's happening in other cities."

Chalmers pointed out that last year at this time, Durham had 15 murders. Nevertheless, the spotlight is pointed on the city and the department after the last few days.

"Over the years, there has been a spotlight put on Durham, and it has never been taken off," Chalmers said.

The department is also on the hot seat at the Durham County Courthouse, where the Mike Peterson murder trial is underway. Defense lawyers are targeting police in front of the local and national media.

"I would prefer to reserve comments about (defense attorney David) Rudolf or anyone else until after the trial is over," Chalmers said, "and I feel certain that after that, a lot of those questions will already be answered."

Chalmers stands by his department, saying much of the negative attention on crime in his city is not deserved.

"I know we get our fair share of crime, maybe even get more than our fair share," he said. "But we are dealing with it, and we'll continue to deal with it until Durham is the safest city in North Carolina."

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