Gunfire, violence in Southside Durham stirs concern, anxiety
Posted November 28, 2019 5:33 p.m. EST
Updated November 29, 2019 11:53 a.m. EST
Durham, N.C. — Residents who live in the Southside area of Durham say they have sought assistance from city leaders and gone to police seeking help to help curb a recent spate of violence, but despite their pleas the criminal activity continues unabated.
On a list of shooting incidents compiled by residents of the area, they have been able to document that there have been shootings in the area every few days.
On South Street, some cars have bullet holes and some houses have them, too.
Residents say they heard more than 30 shots Wednesday night, fired during a drive-by shooting that occurred shortly before midnight in the 1400 block of South Street.
Police said no arrests have been made in connection with the shootings.
"The shooting is not okay," said one resident of the area who requested anonymity. "The shooting must stop."
Many residents contacted by WRAL News were too scared to publicly identify themselves for fear of retaliation.
Neighbors said the man shot Wednesday night was visiting a home, when he was struck in the back by a bullet.
The residents say he has been released from the hospital, and police said his injuries were not life-threatening.
It was not immediately clear if he was targeted or an innocent bystander.
In a written statement, a police spokeswoman said the city has shifted resources to the area.
"Durham police officers have been focusing on issues in that area. District commanders have been working with and will be continuing to work with other units in the department to target crime in that neighborhood," the spokeswoman said. "This includes doing patrols there."
District Attorney Satana Deberry said in a statement: "I feel the same pain and frustration others feel. I live here too. My children fear the threat of gun violence, too, being forced to shelter in place at school. Like many families, mine has been touched by the tragedy of gun violence. The Durham County District Attorney's Office takes violent crime very seriously - in fact the entire office is structured around prosecuting it."
Jillian Johnson, Mayor Pro Tempore, said in a written statement that the area is not being neglected.
"There have been regular increased police patrols in response to shootings in Southside this year. Bull City United also has an active presence doing violence interruption in the neighborhood. The City has paid far more attention to the Southside neighborhood in the last 10 years than it did in the 50+ years prior, when the neighborhood was redlined and the residents were mostly Black and low-income," she said.
Maeve Cohen lives in Southside, and heard the shooting Wednesday night.
"I was sleeping and I woke up to hear gunshots," she said. "You just drop to the ground because you’re not sure where they’re coming from, or where those stray bullets are going to end up."
Southside residents say they all have stories about criminal activity, including Cohen who recalls the police chase that went through her backyard.
Or the time a resident in the community center holding a cup of coffee was unpleasantly surprised when a bullet came through the wall, piercing the cup.
Residents say they have spoken at City Council meetings, met with the mayor and the chief of police.
"I feel like everyone knows what’s going on, but nobody wants to do anything about it," Cohen said.
Some Southside residents say it's time for action.
"Enough with the meeting and talking about it," Cohen said. "It’s time for something to be done. We need a solution."
City Councilman Mark-Anthony Middleton said he has heard the residents' concerns and has taken action by:
- Calling for the police chief to resubmit her request for the city to hire more officers.
- Wanting to fund recommendations from the city's public safety task forces.
- Asking other council members to support the purchase of gunshot detection technology, so police can respond to shootings as soon as they happen.
“My thoughts are with those in our city who have been directly impacted by gunfire and violence recently," Middleton said. "I’m very mindful that this is going to be a very different celebration for a number of our folk.”