‘A rough week’: Roanoke’s gun violence task force meets as city sees 7 shootings

'It’s no secret that there has been an increase in violence'

ROANOKE, Va. – Friday morning, Roanoke City’s Task Force to Reduce Gun Violence met to help curb shootings in the Star City. Just hours later, Roanoke saw its seventh shooting in seven days.

The meeting on Friday morning came after a violent week in Roanoke where six separate shootings hurt six people, including two juveniles. One of those shootings happened in downtown Roanoke and sent dozens of people running for their lives after gunfire rang out.

The city’s task force, renamed the Ad Hoc Study Committee on the Reduction of Gun Violence, discussed gang violence and re-incarceration, education and safer neighborhoods.

“It’s no secret that there has been an increase in violence,” said Chairperson Shakira Williams.

Roanoke City Police Chief Sam Roman updated the group on crime statistics in the city.

In 2018, there were eight homicides and 39 aggravated assaults. In 2019, there were 11 murders and 26 aggravated assaults. From January 1 to July 13 of this year, there have been four murders and 25 aggravated assaults.

“It was a rough week for us here in the city, obviously,” said Roman. “My goal has really been to try to engage with our community.”

The group discussed how to engage the community during breakout sessions. Solutions included forming a comprehensive plan for folks to re-enter society after serving jail time, educating youth, and sharing stories about how gun violence has impacted people in the community.

“I do think that change can happen and I think that it happens when more and more people are willing to be a part of the transformation,” said Vice Mayor Joe Cobb, the committee’s spokesperson.

The committee discussed meeting bi-weekly, instead of just once a month. The next meeting is at 10 a.m on Friday, July 31.


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