Local News

Caught on camera: Shooting near Raleigh playground sends children ducking for cover

Posted January 26, 2021 6:30 p.m. EST
Updated January 26, 2021 7:59 p.m. EST

— Security camera video shows frightened children ducking for cover after shots were fired near a playground in southeast Raleigh.

The children were at Junious Sorrell Park on East Lee Street last Thursday when numerous shots were fired from a passing car at about 4 p.m. Footage from a security camera across the street shows one child dropping to the ground off a swing as seven shots ring out.

A few seconds later, another volley of shots is fired, and two children on the playground back up and grab hold of one another.

"I think it’s terrible that the kids can’t play," said Andreadese Mack-Hicks, who was born and raised in the neighborhood. "I’m glad that my kids are grown because I don’t have to worry about them, but I do have a grandson. He’s 5 months, but in a minute he’s going to want to go down to the park, and I’m scared. See what I’m saying? I’m scared. It’s dangerous."

Gunfire is nothing new for the neighborhood, Mack-Hicks said, but she had hoped crime would go down as more expensive homes go up in the area.

"I thought maybe it would since they’re doing the gentrification, but it seems to me that it’s getting worse," she said.

Residents point to a convenience store on Bragg Street about a block away as the root of the problem, saying gang members hang out there.

"I avoid that at all cost. It doesn’t make any sense. It’s dangerous," Mack-Hicks said.

Raleigh police were called to the convenience store 127 times in the past two years, including dispatches for two shootings and three other gun-related calls. Two stabbings also were reported at the store, and another 18 calls were drug-related, according to police records.

The building is owned by the Passage Home, a nonprofit dedicated to providing housing, job training and other resources to help families break the cycle of poverty.

"Some of these challenges have been here for too long, and we just have to work to uproot it," said Raleigh City Councilman Corey Branch, who is a Passage Home board member.

Branch said police have increased patrols in the neighborhood, but more needs to be done to provide the opportunities residents need.

Seth Friedman, chief executive of Passage Home, said the convenience store lease was in place when the nonprofit bought the Bragg Street property. The organization is working to buy out the lease, which runs into 2024, so the building can be torn down and affordable housing built on the property, he said.

"Passage Home is deeply concerned by the violence occurring on the street in front of our property," Friedman said in a statement, adding that it was "heartbreaking" to see the security camera footage.

"As a community development organization, we continue to work with the community, the city and the police to make it a safer environment for all who live in work in our area," he said. "It is imperative that we address the current situation and keep the community safe, while also examining how we as a society failed these young kids to make them believe this is their best path."

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