'Every bullet tears a hole in our community': Durham Mayor responds to violent night in Bull City

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Durham Mayor Steve Schewel said he's sick about the gun violence.

"Every bullet tears a hole in our whole community," he said Friday. "Any time something like this happens it's a terrible tragedy, not just for the people who are hurt."

Two people were killed Thursday night on Holloway Street and two others were hurt.

He said Durham County has funded two more violence interruption teams -- civilians who help identify and intervene in gang-related conflicts before they intensify.

The city already has funded teams to go into four different neighborhoods. The mayor said better gun laws are needed in addition to strong, well-trained police.

"Good, strategic, strong police is what we need so that we have good investigators out there," Schewel said. "We have them but all those things have to happen to reduce violent crime."

There were also two shootings Thursday night in Raleigh.

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"We know that there is always this increase in crime -- that is not new, this is cyclical," said Dawn Blagrove, executive director at Carolina Justice Policy Center.

She said there should have been a real investment in historically marginalized communities during the pandemic and not the police.

In its budget, Raleigh gave RPD nearly $5 million more to work with.

"The crime we are seeing in our streets right now is a direct result of America ignoring the inequities that exist," Blagrove said. "Those inequities have been exacerbated to a point where they can no longer be ignored. What are seeing is people right now who are traumatized, who are desperate, who have no real viable options for changing their situations other than resorting to street economics."

Durham City Council Member Mark-Anthony Middleton said he supports a multi-faceted approach to the problem and said he believes Durham or any city cannot "police their way" out of it.

He has supported the shot spotter technology, the violence interrupters as well as the Guaranteed Income, which gives $500 a month to formerly incarcerated residents.

"We need to stop the bleeding right now, we've got to stop the kids from getting shot right now," he said. "I'm excited about the things going on in Durham but they're contingent upon people being alive to participate in them."

He was in Memphis on Friday for the swearing-in of former Durham Police Chief CJ Davis.

A national search is underway for a new chief in Durham.
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