Local News

Getting to the bottom of the recent surge in violent crime

Posted February 5, 2021 11:10 p.m. EST

A rash of violent crime recently has many asking one simple question: Why?

A suspect accused of shooting three police officers in High Point is dead tonight. Josue Drumond-Cruz, 34, was killed by Greensboro officers after an 11-hour standoff.

On Thursday, a Nash County Sheriff's deputy was shot along I-95, and in Granville County this week, a suspect was killed after an 18-hour standoff with authorities.

These were just a few of the serious incidents and crimes that took place in central North Carolina this week.

With more than 22 years of service under her belt, former SBI agent Melanie Thomas says she’s never seen gun violence reach such a boiling point. Thomas believes there could be a combination of factors at play, including the pandemic, mental health, access to guns and lack of respect for law enforcement and human life, in general.

“I’ve never seen it so violent, not just against police officers but against each other," Thomas said. "There is like lack of value and human life and respect for each other.”

Thomas can only speculate but says she doesn’t have all the answers as to why it's happening. She just wants it to stop.

“As a former law enforcement person and as a regular citizen, I’m just so saddened and disheartened by what is happening," Thomas said. "Many of us and my friends are wondering why is this happening and when will it stop?”

It's an issue that hits close to home for Siavash Mojarrad.

His brother suffered from mental illness and was shot and killed by Raleigh police in 2019.

“When we’re thinking about folks with mental health issues or even you’re having a mental health day ...you don’t have to have a history of mental illness to have a day where maybe that’s your day of breakdown," Mojarrad said. "Do we have appropriate training in place for that? And do we have the appropriate training in de-escalation?”

While experts believe there are many factors playing a role in the violence, he believes having a greater emphasis on crisis intervention could prevent deadly outcomes.     

As for Thomas, she says it’s going to take a team effort to reduce the bloodshed on both sides of the aisle.

“I don’t know what it’ll take to turn around but I hope it does, for the sake of our law enforcement personnel and the sake of our communities.”

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