Gun violence among kids on the rise in Roanoke, city leaders look for next steps

There is a debate about whether or not to expand curfew hours

ROANOKE, Va. – Roanoke city council is facing a dilemma when it comes to gun violence and youth. According to the numbers, instances of gun violence involving kids and teens are on the rise — but the question now is what to do about it.

“You can’t look at this and tell me that kids are safe in our city,” Mayor Sherman Lea said.

Startling numbers were presented to city council Monday. Gun violence among youth in Roanoke continues to rise.

Police Chief Sam Roman says there have been 29 juveniles involved in an incident with a gun — 13 offenders and 16 victims.

“These are tough numbers. My position is what can we do if the parents don’t want to be parents what can we do to protect these kids and especially now because things have changed. They’ve changed in terms of gun violence here,” Lea said.

10 News asked Roanoke Police for a breakdown of youth gun violence numbers. They say they are working on getting us a full report.

Mayor Lea is pushing for change before summer starts and kids are out of school.

Council looked Monday at expanding curfew hours, but according to city manager Bob Cowell, most incidents with juveniles occur outside of those hours.

Roman says they need to stay consistent in their actions.

“Continue the course. Continue the course that we are on,” Roman said. “I believe that we are seeing and will continue to see benefits from the course that we are on in terms of prevention, intervention and then justice when necessary.”

But Mayor Lea is demanding action.

“Parents are not being parents. And you’ve got kids out that their parents don’t know where they are at 11 or 12 o’clock at night. As mayor I can’t just sit back and say ‘oh, we’ll catch them once the crime is committed,’” Lea said.

Council did not make a decision on curfew Monday. They say they want to look at other options, including after-school and summer programs.

About the Author

Abbie Coleman officially joined the WSLS 10 News team in January 2023.

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