WILMINGTON – After consecutive shootings in late February involving juveniles District Attorney Ben David stressed in a press conference Monday he will try youth as adults for their roles in violent crimes. He called on the community to lock up their weapons, talk to the youth and help end gun violence, the frequency of which he said is currently unlike anything he’s ever seen. Homicides and shootings have been on the uptick since the start of the pandemic. In 2020 the Wilmington Police Department reported 780 violent offenses, 34 more than the year prior. Murders almost doubled, from 12 in 2019 to 22.
WPD Chief Donny Williams and New Hanover County Sheriff Ed McMahon joined the conference. Williams said it is now a nightly occurrence for on-duty officers to come in contact with an armed person. He displayed weapons confiscated in the last 30 days; there were 52 of 91 firearms related to 38 cases presented. The district attorney attributed the rise in youth-involved crime to the loss of school over the past year. He said teenagers who lack structure in their homes or education systems often turn to street gangs. David urged parents, grandparents, teachers and coaches to speak with their children on the issues. [full article]