Roanoke mayor, community reacts to 2023 homicide statistics

There were 21 homicides in Roanoke so far in 2023, 17 of which were gun-related

ROANOKE, VA – Not even 12 hours after city leaders met to discuss gun violence solutions in Roanoke, another deadly shooting took place.

This marks the 21st homicide this year, a staggering number that has members of the community ready to act.

Northwest Roanoke knows what it’s like to lose a neighbor to gun violence.

“That’s somebody’s mama, somebody’s daddy, somebody’s son, somebody’s daughter, that should be important,” Northwest resident Carroll Carter said.

So far this year, there have been 21 homicides in Roanoke – 17 of which are deadly shootings. This is a dramatic increase from the last few years.

In July alone, Roanoke saw seven homicides, six of which were gun-related. A vast majority of those shootings have taken place in Northwest Roanoke.

[Roanoke City leaders putting their foot down when it comes to gun violence]

One Valley Incorporated founder and Northwest neighbor Carroll Carter says it’s a result of unmet needs and economic inequality.

“Violence, based on my studies now, is a symptom of something greater. Why aren’t we looking at that greater?” Carter said.

During Monday’s press conference, Mayor Sherman Lea spoke about how he wants to see harsher sentences for shootings. And after Tuesday’s shooting, he doubled down.

“Sometimes people say, ‘That’s old school jail, you can’t lock away.’ Well, I feel better when people are behind bars that need to be there. If you’re shooting and pulling the trigger, you need to be in jail,” Lea said.

Lea said lenient sentences don’t stop the violence.

“Over 70% of men and women that commit violent offenses with guns have been locked up before,” Lea said. “We have to turn it up, people have to feel that - that we’re not gonna tolerate that.”

He plans to speak to judges and prosecutors in our area about harsher sentences - to deter people from killing.

“When we talk about the whole community being involved, that also involves our prosecutors and the judiciary,” he said.

But for now, Lea said he’s pushing forward.

“I’m gonna do what I can do as a mayor, to lead the charge on this and be much more an advocate for law enforcement,” he said.

Police announced at the press conference that they plan to target hot spot areas and repeat offenders to get a hold of the problem.

About the Author:

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