Local News

Gun Violence Increases Among Raleigh Youth

Posted February 5, 2006

— A new report reveals how gangs, guns and children all three intersect in the Triangle's largest city. Raleigh police say more teenagers have their finger on the trigger.

The report shows a 56 percent increase in armed robbery arrests for people under 20 years old. In 2005, 31 percent of illegal firearms were recovered from people between the ages of 15-24.

On the streets of Southeast Raleigh, resident Mary Wiggs says that fear is creeping into the neighborhood's flavor.

"At a certain time of night, all kinds of people come through here, and I don't know who they are," said Wiggs. "Some of the homes have been hit, people are breaking in and out."

And on a spring night last year, an attempted robbery turned into homicide.

Retired schoolteacher Shirley Newkirk was gunned down in her driveway on Dacian Road. The motive: robbery. Her three suspected killers were all under the age of 20.

The killing still haunts her neighborhood. Wiggs knows one of the suspects.

"Those boys who had those guns, should have never had those guns," she said.

The Newkirk slaying is a symptom of a larger issue. Raleigh Police Chief Jane Perlov blames a culture of violence where video games glamorize gang life and attract children to a life of crime.

"No level of violence is acceptable in our city," said Perlov.

The police department unveiled a 10-point strategy Friday to curb gun violence, calling for an increased vigilance of youth gangs, drug dealers, and asking the community to help.

Mary Wiggs welcomes the challenge, but she warns it will take more than police presence to keep the beat of street peaceful.

"The evil is going to come in the school, it's going to come in the playground, it's going to come in the home," said Wiggs. "We got to be attentive to our children."

Raleigh police said random shootings, while tragic, are rare. The report shows that in most shootings, the suspects were often victims of previous shootings.

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