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Gang violence affecting Durham's young people

Posted June 2, 2011

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— Three people age 19 or younger have been killed in recent weeks in Durham shootings, prompting concern from local residents and officials about growing gang violence in the city.

Shakanah China, 13, was shot May 10 while standing outside 7 Atka Court with several other people. Someone fired shots from a passing van.

A week later, Caron Allen, 18, of Wadesboro Street, and Jeremy Turner, 19, of Gerard Street, were shot and killed outside the Lynnhaven Apartments complex on Wadesboro Street.

Last year, the youngest murder victim in Durham was 21, while a total of eight people age 19 or younger were killed in the city in 2008 and 2009. All of the suspects in the homicides were 20 or younger.

Police haven't said if either of the recent cases is gang-related, but people in the community where Shakanah was killed feel gangs could be responsible.

One gang member said he also believes Durham gangs are to blame for Shakanah's death, and he said gang violence will claim more innocent victims in the future.

"If you look at it, you have a group of boys going against each other, and it's causing them to go in certain spots (where there are) innocent people out there (who) have nothing to do with it," said the gang member, whose identity wasn't disclosed for his safety.

Durham Mayor Bill Bell has asked the city manager to look at the circumstances of the two shootings to see if there are any gang connections.

"My concern is that we at least look at it and try to get some sense as to what is happening," Bell said.

He said he's not sure if there is a way to prevent similar crimes.

"We again need to re-examine what we are doing and if there is something we can do to try and prevent this in the future," he said.

The gang member said he joined a street gang in his early teens for a chance to make quick money and buy things he otherwise couldn't afford. He said he has seen children as young as 7 exposed to gangs.

"You come to find out sooner or later (that) it doesn't last long at all. So, it's really futile," he said of wealth from gang crimes. "I wish there were a lot more people that I was around when I was younger who (would have) showed me different than what I know now."

He said the recent deaths of the three teens affected him deeply, and he's trying to shake his past and build a different future for himself.

"It just made me look at life differently. I used to look at it like nothing could ever happen to me," he said.

He said he wants people to realize, as he now has, that the violence is senseless. He said, however, that he's not hopeful that will happen because crime is the only life some people ever know.

"It's not worth it. It's not worth it at all," he said.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • mmtlash Jun 3, 2011

    There would be gangs in Cary but it is against their zoning amendments...

  • NCSU2311 Jun 3, 2011

    Kids need to be lead when they are young. If Dad does not do it-or is not around or is in prison, and Mom is at work- or on crack or in prison, gangs provide that leadership-that direction.

    The key is the black churches. They can help break this cycle. It requires bringing the youth in and teaching them how to live with God. It requires people to go get these kids when things go south before the gangs get them.

    Im white and havent seen my father in 20 years. He beat my mom and we left in the middle of the night. He is a registered Republican. How would a black church have helped me? Why would you "require" teaching about God? Have you ever read our Constitution? Put down the mythology and read our founding documents! Good grief these social commies are running rampant in NC!

  • williammjohnston Jun 3, 2011

    Put an enforced surveillance on all communities in which these gangs tend to operate and enforce it! There is manpower and money available, particularly if funds for worthless projects are eliminated! Cut the recreation areas and parks unless the users keep it clean and safe. Make juvenile trouble makers wear ankle bracelets after being in trouble the First time and make them and their parents accountable!

  • Just the facts mam Jun 3, 2011

    One reason why many children do not have fathers in their lives is because our government will give money and free services to women who have children but are not married and are not being supported by a man. So the government is promoting bad behavior, and promoting bad behavior by our government is just making the problem worse.

  • ORMA Jun 3, 2011

    Gangs are becoming more prevalent everywhere, not just in Durham. I don't know what the cause for the growth is but this trend is VERY alarming. Neighbors of mine have begun arming themselves due to gang related break-ins, etc. Just a few weeks ago, there was a driveby shooting on the next street over. Didn't see police in the area for over an hour due to shortages of officers. Now politicians want to cut the police budget. What a shame.

  • oldrwizr Jun 3, 2011

    As a Durham citizen, I can only say that you people who live in crime-free areas like Raleigh, Fayetteville, and Cary sure are lucky!

  • tjhiggs68 Jun 3, 2011

    It irks my bones to know that our authorities and those so called nosey neighbors and all this non profit orgs cant put a stop to a bunch of underaged youth who taunt and hurt people in COMMUNITIES via Gang activity... Where are the adults who have the guts to put an end to this senseless annoying pest of a problem.... Why give these so called gang members that much power.... They do not OWN any neighbors, they do not own any property, and they do not pay taxes on any street in this city.... What is the real underlying issue they cant be stopped? Please dont say money!!! They take from others!!!

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Jun 3, 2011

    @wildcat, you mention prison population by race...and you seem to infer that crime propensity might be based on a human’s skin color. Is that what you believe?

    If so, have you ever looked at other factors? ...factors that we *know* are linked to criminal behavior. Of course, I'm talking about socio-economic status. Please do your own research (even just a google) on this. Basically, if someone is lives in bad conditions, with an uneducated partial family who is poor...that child has a much greater propensity to commit crime than kids born to educated, rich parents who have a solid roof over their heads.

    I know this is not as easy for you to put your finger on...skin color is real EASY to latch onto and not let go...but you'll be doing yourself and society a big favor by educating yourself about how socio-economic influences drive criminal activity.

  • DavyCrockett Jun 3, 2011

    Haven't they started calling the former "City on the Rise" Little Durham? Seems a hand to glove fit. Hmmm. Now for extra credit, what do "bofe" have in common? mmmmm mmmmm mmmmm

  • technetium9 Jun 3, 2011

    if your little snowflake is in a gang. thats the parents fault. government has no incentive to "fix" the gang problem, crime inc. is big business, just look at the new courthouse going up