Goldsboro on track to double homicide rate; leaders look to reverse trend
Posted August 5, 2016 3:57 p.m. EDT
Updated August 5, 2016 5:56 p.m. EDT
Goldsboro, N.C. — Goldsboro Mayor Chuck Allen said during a news conference Friday morning that, with eight murders in the first seven months of 2016, the city is on pace to nearly double last year's homicide rate.
"It's totally a black eye," he said. "We know it's a black eye. It's a culture too. I can't keep somebody from shooting somebody, but all I can do is work on it."
Overall, violent crime in the city of Goldsboro is down more than 30 percent, but the homicide rate is up 17 percent.
The most recent murder involved an active-duty Seymour Johnson Air Force Base airman who was shot to death in the heart of downtown. Goldsboro Police Chief Mike West called it a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
West said he believes most of the city's murders have been gang-related but a newly formed gang unit will help to reverse the trend.
"It's not just to go out and hunt down gang members and arrest them and run them through the court," West said. "It's also getting the schools to get to? these young individuals to prevent them, to give them an outlet or direction where they don't become members of the gang lifestyle."
The city has also invested in technology called "shots spotter," acoustic sensors that are placed throughout the city to detect gunshots and alert police immediately.
But officials and community members agree there needs to be more.
"We have to reach out," said Bishop Anthony Slater, senior pastor of Tehillah Church Ministries. "We have to begin to get more involved in our community. It's not just a police issue, it's a family issue, and if we don't ever learn, it's not a black and white issue, it's a people issue."
On Friday afternoon, Gov. Pat McCrory offered his support to help curb violence in the city. Goldsboro leaders will meet on Monday to discuss how funds would be used.
Five of the eight murders this year remain unsolved. Anyone with information is asked to call 919-735-2255. Crime Stoppers is offering a $5,000 reward for information that leads to any arrest.