Durham leaders seek end to violence


Tuesday, Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez made a plea to the community to end the violence. At the same time, a gang outreach organizer told ABC11 that enough is enough. He's calling on churches, city leaders, and the community to work together.

"I've held two mothers right here crying in the last week," said Pastor Terry Shuff.

Shuff knows firsthand the painful price of the recent homicides in Durham. His outreach ministry responds to each crime scene. He even helped pay for a murder victim's funeral too.

"Let's put 100 people out in the area where these shootings are taking place," said Shuff.

The 13 murders so far this year have the attention of city leaders who called a news conference. Durham's mayor and police chief say the murders are not random, but they stopped short of saying they are gang related.

They admit there are some ongoing feuds that have turned deadly.

"Whether they're gang related or not, the suspect and the victims knew each other," said Durham Mayor Bill Bell. "They had some type of relationship. It wasn't random."

"They're acting out of anger and they quite frankly don't have the courage and the strength to step up and be better persons," said Lopez.

The mayor emphasized efforts to crack down on murders including holding elected officials accountable. Speaking directly to would-be criminals and the people who know them, he offered this message.

"Let people know they shouldn't have fears in Durham," said Bell. "Let people know who are involved that they need to get out of it. To let family member and friends with someone involved to do something to deter them. "

"I think it's time to quit the pep rallies and start playing the game," said Shuff.

Shuff is calling for less talk, and more action. While he commends police efforts, he wants to see more.

"They're talking about what they did in the past instead of what's going on right now," said Shuff. "The community, the church needs to get busy."

Shuff commends Durham police. He thinks they're doing a good job. However, he's concerned not enough churches are getting involved.

Durham had 21 murders last year, and 27 the year before.

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