Violent night in Roanoke before gun buyback event

Two separate shootings occurred less than 12 hours before the ‘Groceries not Guns’ program

ROANOKE, Va. – People in Roanoke say they’re fed up with the gun violence.

Roanoke City Police say they’re staying consistent in their efforts to stop shootings — like being a part of Saturday’s gun buyback program.

Two shootings, less than four miles away from each other in the span of an hour early Saturday night.

Roanoke Police say the first shooting happened around 1 a.m. on the 1700 block of Melrose Avenue.

Police say an officer heard shots while patrolling a few streets away.

They found a man with a gunshot wound lying in the street. He was transported to Carilion, where he later died, according to officials.

Roanoke City Deputy Chief Jerry Strokes says they believe this was the aftermath of an argument nearby.

“There was a gathering at a community center nearby and apparently some dispute developed there,” Stokes said.

The next, only an hour later at 2 a.m. Police say they responded to shots fired at the Cookout on Hershberger Road.

But when they got to the scene, the victims had already made it to the hospital.

“One adult and one juvenile male who sustained non-life threatening gunshot wounds,” Stokes said.

Both incidents are still under investigation, and police say they’ve made no arrests yet.

Less than 12 hours after these two shootings, the Roanoke City Police Department alongside the Roanoke Branch NAACP held their annual ‘Groceries Not Guns’ buyback program.

Vice Mayor Joe Cobb says it’s more timely than ever.

“This is a really tangible way citizens can be a part of reducing gun violence by getting guns out of homes and off the streets,” Cobb said.

Sheriff’s Captain Gayle Combs tells 10 News they collected nearly 100 guns less than two hours into the event.

All guns are exchanged for either $150 or $250 grocery gift cards, depending on the style of weapon.

Then, the firearms are melted down.

“We’re trying to change the mindset from the gun violence to there’s other things productive you can do,” Combs said.

Linda Corey brought in her guns just to get them out of her home but says she hopes others do the same.

“To me, having a handgun in the house might end up hurting someone that really shouldn’t be hurt,” Corey said.

Police say if there’s a gun you don’t want in your home, whether it’s for mental health concerns or gun violence, you can always turn it in to the department.

They say if you do have guns in the house, make sure they are always locked, with ammunition stored separately.

About the Author

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

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