Local News

Spike in Shootings Prompts Police Action in Rocky Mount

Posted January 11, 2007 5:56 p.m. EST
Updated January 11, 2007 10:59 p.m. EST

— The fatal shooting of a tow truck driver on New Year’s Day was the eighth shooting within seven days in Rocky Mount and the second fatality. The spike in violent crime is a problem that police say must be addressed.

“It's a large concern for me,” said Police Chief John Manley. “I can't sleep.”

Police said William Corbett was shot by James Taylor Jr. across the street from a nightclub early on the morning of Jan. 1. Corbett died in the hospital on Wednesday. Taylor has surrendered to police in connection with the slaying.

Manley told WRAL the shootings are not connected, but highlight a major, growing problem of guns and drugs in the city.

“I would say most of the shootings are drug-related or drug-driven,” Manley said. “I think you're seeing the results of an ongoing problem that's been neglected for many years.”

Gene Scarborough owns a tree removal business in Rocky Mount. He said he’s had several vehicles and types of equipment stolen in recent weeks.

“To me, it's a tremendous concern,” Scarborough said. “It’s cost me between $15,000 and $20,000 since the month of November.”

Scarborough said he believes it’s all tied to out-of-control, drug-related crime, too.

Manley said his department is launching a major crackdown. He's added at least 10 police officers to each shift, and he said they will have a zero-tolerance policy on all crime and will be especially tough on weapons violations.

“Please note that the Rocky Mount Police Department is pushing back and we're not going to tolerate this here,” Manley said.

However, Scarborough said he doubts the crackdown will make a difference.

“I think, right now, it’s too late by several years,” he said. “It’s probably too little for the real problem.”

Scarborough is asking state representatives and the state Attorney General's Office to get involved.

Manley said he is talking with church leaders and local leaders. He believes the police can turn things around with help from the community.

“We're not going to let up,” Manley said. “We're going back to the way it used to be. Citizens are going to be safe, officers are going to be safe, and crooks are going to jail.”

For now, Rocky Mount plans to use its current staff of police officers, but Manley said local leaders will assess the situation and determine whether they need to hire more. Police are also planning a series of meetings to get the community more involved.