Durham, N.C. — A 16-year-old with a stolen gun has been charged in connection with one of two drive-by shootings in Durham on Thursday night.
The shooting occurred at East Main and Elizabeth streets, near the Durham Police Department headquarters, and two nearby apartments were hit by gunfire, police said. Officers and Durham County deputies in the area found the vehicle suspected in the shooting after it crashed into two cars in the parking lot of Edgemont Elms Apartments, police said.
Everyone inside the car had fled, but authorities found the 16-year-old hiding nearby, police said. He was also a suspect in other incidents in the area, police said.
An earlier drive-by shooting Thursday night occurred near Liberty and Elm streets, and a WRAL News crew witnessed it.
“I have said time and time again that I believe it’s a de facto state of emergency,” City Councilman Mark-Anthony Middleton said of ongoing gun violence in Durham. “Whether it’s declared or not, we ought to treat it that way.”
Police responded to 331 shootings through June 5, which is down about 10 percent from last year. But the number of people shot is at the same pace as a year ago – 105 this year compared with 104 in 2020 – and the number of fatalities is up, 17 versus 11.
Although Durham police don’t break out drive-by shootings separately, WRAL News’ reporting shows that at least a dozen people have been wounded in such shootings since February, including a 13-year-old girl and a 60-year-old woman.
“Time and time again, I’ve spoken to people in the city who have just resigned themselves that, ‘This is what happens in my neighborhood,’ to the point they’re not even calling the police anymore,” Middleton said. “Do not accept that as normal.”
Brittany Lila Galicia said she feels that way.
“Growing up in really bad parts of Durham,” she said, “I got used to it – hearing shots and things happening.”
Middleton said stopping gun violence is going to be his focus this summer. He said Durham needs to invest in more neighborhood-based nonprofits to build communities.
“We don’t need permission to save our own lives, so I think there’s some grassroots, community-based things we need to be doing,” he said. “I want a robust, varied toolbox that I can use to respond to various circumstances.”
Galicia, 19, works at one such nonprofit, a garden school called Seeds, which teaches youths to grow fresh produce and provides food to families in the community. The garden is near where one of Thursday night’s shootings occurred.
“Being here, I’ve always felt safe. It’s safer than home,” she said. “I just don’t let it scare me as much.”
“There’s a lot of problems with poverty in this area, and that leads to desperation, and there’s also a lot of gentrification in this neighborhood,” said Trevor Hyde, who also works at Seeds.
Halting gun violence is also going to be an important issue in hiring Durham’s new police chief, Middleton said. Friday was Police Chief C.J. Davis’ last day on the job before she leaves to take charge of the Memphis Police Department in Tennessee.
Anyone with information about either shooting is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 919-683-1200.