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Curbing gun violence in Roanoke

"We have to have buy-in from the community."

ROANOKE, Va. – After a violent week in the City of Roanoke, where three people were shot and killed, city officials and police say they aren't just praying for peace.

Mayor Sherman Lea has a number of ideas he thinks could put an end to gun violence, but one in particular focuses on people living in the neighborhoods where the shootings happen.

On Sunday, a 24-year-old woman was shot and killed outside Tammy Clarkson's Southeast Roanoke home. Clarkson and her nephew ran out to help.

"That poor little girl died in mine and my nephew's arms," Clarkson said.

This was just the most recent in a string of deadly shootings across the city. Three people were shot in a Northwest Roanoke neighborhood Wednesday. Two of the victims died.

A Roanoke City police spokesperson released a statement that reads: 

"It is too soon in the investigations to determine the motives behind the recent acts of violence in the city. Detectives are continually exploring all leads to bring justice to these victims and their families. The Roanoke Police Department continues to engage in community outreach to strengthen ties with the community. We also have personnel working with the Roanoke Gun Violence Task Force, and continue to work with other organizations to do our part to curb violence in the City of Roanoke."

Lea said city officials would consider hiring new officers and want to find more ways for people to interact with police. He also talked about adding security cameras in neighborhoods. However, he added that city officials can't address the issue alone.

"This culture of not telling, not talking, not snitching, that's not going to help us. We need the help. we need citizens' help in order to bring some of these criminals to justice."

People who live in Southeast Roanoke said they want a bigger police presence, a crackdown on drugs and more education for kids on guns and addiction. 

Clarkson said there's no easy solution.

"Unfortunately, it's not all going to go away," Clarkson said. "I think Congress and everybody's trying to do what they can, but in reality unless you can control somebody's mind, you're not going to control it."

The city is holding a strategic planning meeting next week to brainstorm solutions to the gun violence problem and there will be a vigil Friday night.


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