Local News

Durham community groups come together to address gun violence

There have been 128 people shot in Durham so far this year, and 25 have died.
Posted 2023-08-23T20:03:38+00:00 - Updated 2023-08-24T21:13:27+00:00

There have been 128 people shot so far this year in Durham and 25 of them have died, according to Durham police data.

Several community groups and nonprofits participated in Wednesday’s Safer Community Conference at the Durham Convention Center to find ways to stop the violence. There were about 150 people in attendance.

Community groups included Project BUILD, Duke Hospital's Violence Intervention Program and the city of Durham's HEART Program.

Kirby Jones is a crisis response clinician, part of the unarmed first responder HEART team.

“A lot of times what they need is really just someone to talk to,” Jones said. “Someone to sit with them in their pain."

Speakers emphasized the gun violence is not only a law enforcement issue, but a problem for everyone to fix.

Jones attended Wednesday’s event to learn more about the other partners and departments that help the people he serves.

"Being first responders and the type of work that we have, we really want to know that when we're connecting our neighbors to different forms of care, they're going to be in really good hands." (9 seconds)

Durham County Sheriff Clarence Birkhead emphasized safe storage of guns since so many weapons used in local crimes are stolen from cars and homes.

“The [Drug Enforcement Administration] put out a study that said the weapons that are used in crimes are already in our community, so there's no iron pipeline where guns are being brought into our city. they're here,” Birkhead said.

Duke Hospital violence recovery specialist Demetrius Lynn expressed his concern about the east Durham community.

"When you don't have different things to help individuals be successful, that's when they resort to becoming environment or a product of the environment, which leads to sometimes drug use," Lynn said. "I'm concerned about the resources that are there in the community to discourage individuals who want to pick up guns, talking about youth in the area."

Lynn said he was a victim of gun violence more than 30 years ago in Durham.

"I made it through," Lynn said. "I recovered, and I'm doing something totally different to encourage individuals to not go the route I went."

Durham Police Chief Patrice Andrews will present the second-quarter crime report on Thursday to the Durham City Council. Here are some of the findings:

  • From January through June, there were 23 homicides. It is the same number for 2021, 2022 and 2023.
  • Reported rapes are up 31% from January 2022 -June 2022 compared to January 2023-June 2023.
  • Compared to the year before, shooting incidents are up 20%, but the number of people shot is down 25%.
  • Compared to the year before, property crime is up in burglary (13%), larceny (8%) and motor vehicle theft (153%).