DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Less than a month into the year 2021, Durham has already seen 59 shootings, according to the latest data from Durham police.
Police say of the 59 shootings, 11 people were shot which resulted in two deaths. The remaining nine were reported as non-fatal.
Durham police say the data is through Jan. 23.
From Jan. 1 through 23, 2020, Durham reported 54 shootings, with 14 people being shot and two deaths.
The year 2020 was a record for the city of Durham as there were 966 shooting incidents in 2020, 318 people were shot, and 33 of those shootings were deadly.
City officials said back in December that COVID-19 and gang activity are two factors that are to blame.
Several of the incidents have been drive-by shootings or rolling gun battles where stray bullets have struck innocent victims.
“Unfortunately, bullets are going through cars, going through homes and windows, and innocent people are being injured and killed,” said Durham County Sheriff Clarence Birkhead in December.
Recently the city was presented with different options for expanding the county’s Bull City United Violence Interrupter program. Durham leaders have since moved forward with plans to expand the program.
This program hires former gang members or individuals with experience in these high crime areas to work as mediators to help stop future shootings.
“If you have people who have relationships with folks who may have been involved in a violent act or shooting and if you can get to them before they retaliate, the proposition is that that can lessen gun violence,” said Mark-Anthony Middleton, a Durham city councilman.
Currently, there are only six members of Bull City United’s program and they work in two different high crime areas which include McDougald Terrace and in part of the southside community.
But through this expansion, the program will be expanding to Oxford Manor, Cornwallis Road, the Golden Belt District and an area just south of downtown.
The $935,488 expansion will allow them to hire 18 new employees which include two new supervisors, eight new violence interrupters, and eight new outreach workers.
Middleton said city officials will be working with the county to start looking for people to hire for the program as soon as possible.
However, right now there is no word when these new boots will be on the ground.
According to data from a city council meeting, the two areas where these violence interrupters have worked have seen a 1.78 percent decrease in gun-related crimes since 2013.