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Durham residents demand end to violent crime

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DURHAM, N.C. -

Police in Durham are now investigating the 17th homicide of the year, as some members of the community are calling for more to be done to prevent violent crime.

Ella Davis, 58, was found dead Tuesday at the Greens of Pine Glen Apartments where she lived near Interstate 40 and N.C. Highway 54. 

Police did not reveal the cause of death and no arrests have been made.

Latechia Scott lives in the apartment complex where Davis was found. Scott said it is scary to hear the news. "That's the scary part. Not knowing. Just not knowing if it was a closed incident or something random."

 Another resident of the apartment complex expressed her concern after Davis was found. "Every time you look around on the news, somebody's been shot," Phylliss Johnson said.

On July 2, Durham city leaders held a news conference to address the 13 violent deaths the city has seen in the first half of 2013.

Mayor Bill Bell said, "We felt it was important to ... reassure the public that they should have nothing to fear."

But in just over three weeks, there have been four more homicides. 

Charlie Reece, a Durham resident for seven years, is an attorney that spent time working in the Attorney General's office. He recently attended a city crime cabinet meeting in search of solutions. 

"Something is not working in Durham," Reece said. "What I didn't see was any kind of attention or focus on what's happening in our communities right now."

Durham City Manager Tom Bonfield said he is frustrated, too. Bonfield said police are doing all the right things, including using data to follow and respond to trends.

"I recognize that people say we need to do more. We agree. We're looking to do everything we can, but we're doing a lot now," Bonfield said.

Reece sees a gun buyback program as a way to help the problem of violent crime in Durham.  "I think that's worth trying. I don't think you have to use public funds for it. I think we could work within the community to raise money to do that," Reece said.

Bonfield addressed the idea of a gun buyback program by saying the idea has been tossed around but they don't end up with a lot of success.

The city manager says people who want to help and find solutions should start in their neighborhoods.

There have now been 17 murders in Durham this year but the city counts 18. Per FBI requirements, the additional homicide was recently reported but occurred in 2009.

Durham has averaged 24 murders over the past three years. Cities with a similar popular as Durham average less than five murders a year.

Despite the number of murders in 2013, violent crime is at a 23-year low in Durham.

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