LILLINGTON, N.C. (WTVD) --The Harnett County sheriff expressed concern Monday evening about a recent spike of violent crime, and he's even told residents to start arming themselves.
More than 100 people packed the sanctuary of the Spring Hill United Methodist Church Monday night for a community meeting on crime. There has been an explosion of violence and crime in the area, especially in the last few weeks.
Sheriff Larry Rollins told the crowd that the violence is fueled by gangs and drugs. He urged everyone to protect themselves, saying he doesn't go anywhere without a gun.
"When I am out with my family, even though I am a cop, I don't go anywhere without a gun," Rollins told the crowd. "I mean it's sad we have to have that attitude, but I am going to protect myself and my family. I want my deputies at your house just as fast as they can when you got a problem, but you better be able to take care of business until we get there if you have to protect your family."
This part of the county's landscape of rural life is quickly giving way to a population boom, and residents are worried. Several residents said they are afraid to leave their homes -- afraid of the growing violence.
One resident said she goes to church and prays but is still afraid. It's a sentiment shared by other families as well.
"I think they are working hard trying to get solutions for us which comforts us a little bit, but still, knowing it's out there and knowing it happens every day, still doesn't make you feel safe," said resident Jamie Salmon.
Several speakers urged the residents to call deputies if they see something suspicious, and to keep a sharp eye out for themselves and their neighbors.
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