Gov. Roy Cooper's office responds to Henderson's request for help

HENDERSON, NC (WTVD) -- Gov. Roy Cooper's Office has responded to a request for help from Henderson city officials, stemming from a string of deadly shootings in the city.

In a letter obtained by ABC11, Cooper's office told city leaders that "DPS will begin internal discussion about options."

"I don't understand how it got this way," said Angie Hedgepeth, who lives in Henderson.

One thing on the mind of some residents - more officers.

"We have a great police department. But they are understaffed, and whatever we could (get) from the state - I would say would be greatly appreciated," said Brenda Dickerson, who grew up in Henderson.

Mayor Eddie Ellington told ABC11 that the police department has 13 open positions, which represents more than 20 percent of their full staffing.

The Police Department recently met with the US Attorney's Office, where they requested more help in prosecuting violent and narcotic offenders in the city.

While a better-staffed department is one need, the Rev. Curtis Gatewood said he believes residents need to be part of the solution.

"Trying to work on real hands-on issues with youth who are in these troubled neighborhoods, who are needing after-school (activities), who are needing attention, who are needing love," Gatewood explained.

Beginning at 10 a.m. on April 7, Gatewood will help lead a march in Henderson calling for greater community engagement.

"People are coming out and acting out, and unfortunately using guns and violence as a way of misdirecting their anger. Just as we see in various parts of the country, there's a need for more attention to the community," Gatewood said.

As police continue to investigate three of those shootings, people like Dickerson and Hedgepeth are being extra cautious.

"Back in my day, you could sleep with your door open. Now you have to have it locked. Me and (Dickerson), we don't go anywhere unless we're with each other," Hedgepeth said.

That caution has not erased their city pride.

"We're going to get our city back. I mean, I'm going to still continue to live here, and I don't want to go anywhere. I grew up here, I'll probably die here," said Hedgepeth.

If you have any information on those unsolved shootings, call Henderson Police at (252) 438-4141, or Crime Stoppers at (252) 492-1925.
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