Roanoke leaders discuss next steps as city sees violence ‘consistent with gang culture’

In just three days, two people have died from shootings

ROANOKE, Va. – Recent violence in the Star City may be linked to “gang culture,” according to Roanoke City Police Chief Sam Roman.

Two shootings have left two people dead and another hurt in just three days in Roanoke. Two cars were damaged Friday in a third shots fired incident, and a woman but hurt, but no one was hit by gunfire.

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Chief Sam Roman said it will take the entire community to curb the violence.

“I’m ready to say that we are seeing activity that is consistent with gang culture,” said Roman.

A map of firearm-related incidents as of Thursday shows most of the violence is concentrated on the northwest area of Roanoke.

While “gang culture” carries part of the blame, Roman said community cooperation is also important. He said when you see something, say something.

Roanoke Mayor Sherman Lea said lack of cooperation from victims and witnesses slows down the investigations.

“There are people that are getting shot – victims – that won’t even talk to the police,” said Lea.

Roman said the department plans to “aggressively police” the issue. That entails identifying the problem and repeat offenders, aggressively going after them and encouraging the community to help out.

“It’s to go in and collaborate with the 98% of the good people that live in that particular part of our community,” said Roman.

As of Thursday, 10 people have been killed in the city, six from gunfire. Another 31 people were shot in aggravated assaults.

Roman plans to work with federal law enforcement for analytical support, especially as it pertains to the “gang culture.”

Additionally, he plans to form a gang unit within the department. Community support, however, is key before another life is lost, he said.

Roanoke City Council also created a “Gun Violence Task Force.” Mayor Sherman Lea and Vice Mayor Joe Cobb are part of this committee.

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