ROANOKE, Va. – Roanoke’s Gun Violence Prevention Commission met for the first time following a string of nine shootings, six of which were deadly.
Commissioners met at City Hall Tuesday evening to go over some of the data with Interim Police Chief Jerry Stokes.
“A number of more homicides. Unfortunately, we have a lot of homicides,” Stokes said.
Roanoke Police Data shows there have been 18 gun-related homicides so far this year. That’s seven more homicides than what the city had around this time last year and one more homicide than the total for last year.
Christopher Roberts is the Youth and Gang Violence Prevention Coordinator. Each month he comes to the gun violence meeting to discuss some of the efforts he and his team are working on.
“It is disheartening to see those numbers increasing. It’s disheartening being in the community and seeing all the suffering that’s happening and the after effect of these homicides that are affecting our community,” Roberts said.
The commission spent most of their meeting talking about some of the legislative priorities they want to see from the General Assembly next year.
Priorities pertain to topics of permits for handguns, safe gun storage, and more funding.
Chief Stokes told the group investigations have shown a lot of the violence is because of arguments and disputes, not gang-related.
“Things happen in a moment, in a blink of an eye and they respond with the skills that they have. What we want to do is improve the skill set to be able to make a good decision in a traumatic environment,” Roberts said.
Chief Stokes along with the Roanoke Police Department is hosting a forum on Wednesday at Straight Street on Luck Avenue SW. The event is meant to allow downtown residents and business owners to discuss some of their concerns. The event goes from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.