Roanoke City leaders address recent string of shootings

They held a press conference Monday night

ROANOKE, VA – “These incidents all have something in common, all four victims of gun violence over this weekend were teenagers,” said David Morris, deputy chief of the Roanoke City Police Department.

Three shootings in the span of two days. The latest leaving a teenage boy dead.

It happened Sunday night on 18th Street in Roanoke.

Nicole Ross is a member of FEDUP, a nonprofit that supports families who have lost loved ones to gun violence. She spent the morning helping the victim’s family cope with trauma.

”We are not oblivious to the hurt that they’re feeling,” Ross said.

Ross is also a member of the city’s gun violence prevention commission and said trauma-informed training is key, before and after a shooting.

”Roanoke City Schools talks about trauma-informed training and all of that is exactly what we need. Because these young children, they heard the shots. They’re seeing it, and they’re having to live with it,” Ross said.

Founder of FEDUP, Rita Joyce, said understanding the mental health issues that surround people who commit acts of violence is the first step in stopping it.

”We need more people to open up about the why. We know that it’s happening, but what is the ‘why?’” Joyce said.

Another issue, according to Mayor Sherman Lea, is getting people to come forward.

[WATCH: Roanoke police, leaders address recent gun violence in the city]

“We’re doing all that we can and will continue to work hard. It’s going to take everybody to help us solve these crimes,” said Lea.

Jerry Stokes, deputy chief with the Roanoke City Police Department, couldn’t provide specific details but said the department is bringing additional resources in the search for suspects.

“It’s one of the toughest things for cops to ever go to is seeing someone young like that, life ahead of them, to be cut down or even injured. Like the two at Cookout, that’s going to impact their life forever. That’s always impactful for an officer to have to deal with that, and we wanna see those folks get justice,” Stokes said.

The RESET team will be out in the impacted neighborhoods this week.

The mayor also said that while there is a youth curfew in place, parents need to be involved to curb violence.

About the Author

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

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