Durham Police investigate drive-by shooting that injured 5

Michael Perchick Image
Friday, May 28, 2021
Durham Police investigate drive-by shooting that injured 5
Durham Police are investigating after five people were injured in a drive-by shooting late Thursday night.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Durham Police are investigating after five people were injured in a drive-by shooting late Thursday night.

It happened shortly before midnight when officers responded to a shooting call along the 1200 block of Fayetteville Street. When police got to the scene, they found four victims -- three men and a woman -- suffering from gunshot wounds.

They were taken to the hospital with serious injuries. A fifth victim arrived at the hospital about a half-hour later.

"There's no sugarcoating this. Durham has now crossed a threshold that places us in a very unenviable and dubious club. We had a mass shooting," said Durham City Council Member Mark-Anthony Middleton.

Durham Mayor Steve Schewel, who announced Thursday that he won't seek a third term in office, highlighted crime and gun violence in particular as one of the greatest challenges facing the city.

The shooting happened just hours after the Durham City Council voted to freeze 15 unfilled positions in DPD with the possibility of transferring those to a newly formed Community Safety Department, which would send unarmed counselors and mental health professionals to certain calls instead of law enforcement. The measure was approved in a 6-1 vote, which included Middleton's support.

Still, he said that it's important for the city to take a widespread approach to policing.

WATCH: How Durham is seeking solutions to gun violence

Michael Perchick reports on some of the ways Durham leaders are addressing policing concerns while addressing a rise in violent crimes.

"While we're putting so much energy and resources and creativity, which I support, into one aspect of the issue, and seemingly not much so into the other aspect," Middleton said. "Everything that the new department will encompass, I'm actually on record supporting. I called for unarmed police responders last year. I proposed UBI, Universal Basic Income, in the city. The expansion of the violence interrupters was my recommendation. I also called for -- and this is the shiny object that gets a lot of attention -- for ShotSpotter. Listen, if you support universal background checks, for me, it's just intellectually challenging to see how you wouldn't also support a system that alerts us to where gunfire is on our streets."

ShotSpotter is a gunshot-detection system, and the company has offered the city a six-month free trial to implement it. However, it has faced pushback and questions about its usefulness, including from Durham Mayor Pro Tempore Jillian Johnson.

Johnson was unavailable for an interview Friday but sent a response to ABC11 about the technology, writing in part: "...my personal stance on ShotSpotter has not changed. Even if the technology works the way the company says it does, I doubt ShotSpotter would be useful in this sort of incident anyway given the impossibility that this many shots and multiple injuries would have gone unreported to the police."

But Middleton said it's worth, well, a shot.

"It's a tool that we should try, and if it doesn't work, I'll be the first to say let's get rid of it. But I think our children jumping in bathtubs is worth it," Middleton said.

Friday, people who live and work near the scene of Thursday's shooting offered their suggestions.

"The police officers need to stop, get out the car and go into the businesses. That means that there's a connection between the police, the business, and the citizens in the community," said Kasib Abdullah, the Executive Director for Believers United for Progress.

Believers United for Progress is a local nonprofit, offering services that include mentorship and food-box distribution.

"There are a lot of resources that are out there, but they need to be able to bring them to the community members, people who are willing to implement these things," Abdullah said.

Others embraced that idea.

"I feel very confident that this community would welcome that, and would look at it as an improvement in terms of our police-community relationship," Gwendolyn McLaughlin Bookman said.

Abdullah also encouraged assistance in addressing nearby properties.

"We need money to get these houses fixed up around here so people can stay in our community," Abdullah said.

Bookman agreed that community improvement is a key.

"One of the things that I think all of us in this very historic area are concerned about is making sure that our community is presented in a good light, and making sure that those of us who live here are protected," Bookman said. "So, one of the things that I think is on many of our minds right now is what we can do in collaboration with city government to make sure that that occurs. There are lots of things that are going on in terms of development occurring, especially in this part of the city, but we also know that there are more things that we can do in partnership with the city to make sure that we can make it as safe as it can be."

Bookman has deep ties to the area, as her father was an entrepreneur who operated a grocery store in the 1930s, and her son is opening a business.

"The things that I'm concerned about are those day-to-day things that are really about creating a sense of community here that gives all of us that live in this area ownership for creating a good and viable place for all of us to live," said Bookman, who stressed the need for a partnership.

Through May 22, Durham Police have responded to 291 shootings, slightly down from 312 compared to the same time period in 2020. However, fatal shootings have nearly doubled (17 vs. 9) and the number of people shot is up slightly (91 vs. 87).