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BB gun-toting bicyclists terrorize church after-school program

Posted March 25, 2011
Updated March 30, 2011

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— Members of a Raleigh church said Friday that students in their after-school program have been shot at twice this week by teens on bicycles armed with pellet guns.

They are just as surprised by what they say is a slow response by Raleigh police to the situation.

Every Tuesday and Thursday, dozens of underprivileged students go to Avent Ferry United Methodist Church, at 2700 Avent Ferry Road, for a free meal and some help with their school work.

Both days this week, some teens rode their bicycles alongside the church van as it picked the children up for the program and began firing pellet guns at the vehicle, church member Wendell Gilliam said.

Susan Bell, the director of the program, called 911 at 4 p.m. Thursday to report the incidents, Gilliam said, because the children were too scared to leave the building.

"She was told that they would have a policeman call her. That did not happen," he said, noting Bell then called 911 a second time.

When the second call again led to no response, Gilliam said he drove to a police substation on Hutton Street to ask for help.

"They told me they couldn't help me. I had to call 911. An officer, actually two officers, would not come over," he said. "It irritates me very much that it takes so long to get a policeman to come when you have children being shot at. If that's not serious enough to get a response from police, what is?"

Avent Ferry United Methodist Church van BB gun-toting bicyclists terrorize church after-school program

Gilliam said an officer arrived at the church at 6:45 p.m. Thursday to escort the children home. They usually are taken home at 6 p.m., he said.

Police dispute some of Gilliam's account of the incident, noting the first 911 call wasn't made until 4:53 p.m. In that call, Bell never told the dispatcher that the children were in danger, only that BBs has been fired at the church van.

In the 911 call released by police, the caller states that the van was shot at at Gorman Street and Conifer Drive and had left the intersection.

"They continued on. I told them to move out," the caller says.

Maj. J.C. Perry said he spoke to the substation supervisors and believes the officers made an attempt to follow up on the 911 calls from the church.

"They checked the computer to see if it was something ongoing at that moment," Perry said. "I can't imagine that we didn't do anything to provide immediate assistance."

Police said they were still looking into the matter.

Gilliam said some of the children who normally attend the program weren't there on Thursday. He said he hopes police will provide more assistance next week when the program resumes.

"I want a policeman to be around, and I want that bus to be escorted," he said. "(The children) are afraid."

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  • bkahuna Mar 25, 2011

    Raleigh police refusing to respond to a crime in action....SHOCKING! Many years ago I called 911 numerous times while watching an apartment being broken into by 4 guys. Took the RPD 1.5 hours to show up....of course missing the burglars.

  • computer trainer Mar 25, 2011

    In the last 6 weeks TWO children in the Triangle area have been killed with BB guns, so I would think that this qualifies as Assault with a Deadly Weapon.

  • sean6 Mar 25, 2011

    You know, if someone points a gun at you, you can use deadly force to protect your life and the lives of innocents. Running someone over with a church van would be considered deadly force.

    Luckily they turned out to be pellet guns, but had this happened to me, I might not have taken the time to verify that they weren't real guns before swerving into the shooters.

  • Rocknhorse Mar 25, 2011

    Sadly, if you shoot them with a paint ball gun, it's considered assault with a weapon (or at least that is what we were told when we had trespassers vandalizing and harrassing our horses at the barn we boarded at). Can't catch them and hold them for police either. That's considered kidnapping. In dealing with adults, we were told we could beat them until they couldn't move and it would be simple assault with a minor fine as long as we didn't use a weapon. These are kids, so ...hmmmm..... ram a stick into their bike wheel spokes??? Nah. Then you'd be arrested for child abuse. Find the parents of those kids!!

  • RB-003 Mar 25, 2011

    BlackWolf - "Buy a couple of paint guns and shoot back, using florescent green paint."

    Great idea! Perhaps by the time the perps figured out how to get the green paint off, a cop would show up to arrest them...and better yet, no one would get hurt with paint ballz.

  • justafella Mar 25, 2011

    Buy a couple of paint guns and shoot back, using florescent green paint.

  • Wolfpack12 Mar 25, 2011

    Amen @Hans. Had they called and said some teens were smoking pot outside the church, you can bet a policeman would have been there in seconds.

  • limeyrider Mar 25, 2011

    This is not just 'typical' for the RPD, it's their standard operating procedure. "Shots fired" calls (fire arm, BB gun, sling shots, darts, etc.) they run and hide. I live near this church and I have called NUMEROUS times to report cars on Avent Ferry Rd. late at night/early morning with occupants firing guns (NOT of 'pellet' variety) while driving. (I work rotating hours so I'm up late at times.) NEVER do I see a police car, marked or unmarked, for a MINIMUM of an hour-YES I have actually timed them. Neighbors and I call them, "Raleigh's Frightened."

  • OBX4us Mar 25, 2011

    Whoooo.... I'd be snatching me some teens off them bikes and giving them what for! Those children could be hurt badly even with BB's. Wait, we can't snatch them anymore, can we? Hmmm.. just what is wrong with people these days?

  • Hans Mar 25, 2011

    Probably too busy trying to bust somebody for smoking some pot or driving a few mph over the speed limit - gotta have our (money making) priorities straight.