Durham mayor calls 9-year-old boy's shooting death an 'unspeakable tragedy,' talks gun control

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Durham mayor Steve Schewel said Monday the kind of violence that left a 9-year-old boy dead and an 8-year-old injured over the weekend will continue unless cities are permitted to control the sale of guns.

His words came after 9-year-old Zion Person was shot and killed while riding in a car in Durham. The young boy was headed to Pelican's SnoBalls with his family to get snow cones when the car he was in was shot.

A police source said it was hit 15 times.

Schewel called Zion's death an "unspeakable tragedy."

He also said the circumstances won't improve unless something changes when it comes to gun control.

"I'll tell you the honest truth about this," he said. "As long as we are not permitted by our state legislature to control guns, we are going to have violence in Durham."
"We have so many guns on our streets now and we're not allowed to control them by our state legislature," he continued. "Not to have the most common sense gun legislation, background checks, the ability to stop flea market sales of guns...We have to allow guns now because of our state laws in our parks, on our trails, in restaurants, in bars."

He called it an "untenable situation."

While Schewel said it is the role of the entire community to do something about the violence, he knows police officers can't be everywhere.

"I have strong faith in our law enforcement's ability to do the job," he said. "It doesn't matter how many police officers you have, the likelihood you're going to have someone standing on the corner to stop that murder is very, very low. We have 550 uniformed officers. But they can't be on every street corner and they can't stop every crime."

"We stand together with Mayor Steve Schewel, Police Chief Davis and the Durham Police Department to get guns off our streets and identify those responsible for this incident," Durham County Sheriff Clarence Birkhead said in a statement Monday afternoon. "The unthinkable is becoming normal - and I am committed to change that mindset. Like before, my thoughts today return to the people of Durham -- and for their safety. I cannot emphasize enough: we must reduce gun violence in Durham County. Our community is much better than this."
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