Raleigh father who lost son to shooting reacts to gun violence crisis: 'It's a war zone out there'

DeJuan Hoggard Image
Tuesday, June 25, 2024
Father who lost son reacts to gun health crisis: 'War zone out there'
"It's a cultural problem," said a Raleigh man who works to reduce gun violence in the city.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- On the heels of Raleigh seeing three shootings within 24 hours this past weekend, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy officially declared gun violence a public health crisis in the United States.

The move comes as gun violence is the leading cause of death for children and teens.

Murthy also said more than half of surveyed adults reported experiencing gun violence personally or from a family member.

And nearly 6 in 10 adults said they worry about their family member being a victim of gun violence.

"And now it's too late," said Tracy Montague. His 15-year-old son, Shemar Leverette, was gunned down near Moore Square in October 2023. "That's the life my son wanted to live. The streets for some reason. And I hate it. I was trying to change that route. Because the streets is not good for you. Go to school, get an education, and go to work. That's all I wanted my son to do."

Raleigh Police soon charged 22-year-old Steven Stanley in Leverette's murder.

"I understand when families lose their loved ones to gun violence. I understand that and I know how to feel, you know, and it sucks," said Montague. "It was one of the worst things I ever had to do in life. You know, and I still, I still think about it and to this day."

Montague said he believes as long as guns are on the streets, Murthy's efforts are a "waste of time".

By the numbers, law enforcement agencies from Raleigh and Durham provided ABC11 with gun violence data from January 1 through Tuesday,

  • Durham County Sheriff's Office (1 fatal shooting, 3 non-fatal shootings)
  • Durham Police Department (19 fatal shootings, 100 non-fatal)
  • Wake County Sheriff's Office (0 fatal, 5 non-fatal)
  • Raleigh Police Department (12 fatal, 35 non-fatal)

"I believe a lot of this is happening because of our access to firearms," said Raleigh Boots on the Ground CEO Gerald Givens. "It is a public health crisis and it's going to take a public health approach for us to be able to address these components," he said.

Givens said he hopes his work will make a difference in the lives of residents. He's also lost seven family members to gun violence.

"It's a cultural problem," said Givens.

Meanwhile, Dr. Kimberly Muktarian with Save Our Sons said she believes there needs to be a conversation between Raleigh city leaders, state lawmakers, and Washington D.C. to address the issue.

"I think it's a great acknowledgment as to where we are in America," she said. "And they say this is just what happens in our community. And we get accustomed to releasing balloons, we get accustomed to wearing t-shirts, and not addressing the real issues in our community. It's time for repair."