String of homicides concerns community

Chief Barry Rountree takes questions from the crowd during a community meeting held at the Winston Lake Family YMCA last week.

String of homicides concerns community
December 15
06:30 2016

Photo by Tevin Stinson



The residents who live in the vicinity of the Old Greensboro Road want answers. Following three homicides in the neighborhood in less than two months, longtime resident Mona Lisa Byrd said at times she is even afraid to leave the house

“With all the shooting going on and the things we see on a daily basis, I don’t feel safe,” said Byrd. “Something has to be done. I shouldn’t have to worry about my grandson getting shot or hurt when he’s getting off the school bus.”

To ease the concerns of Byrd and others in the community, last week Council Member Derwin Montgomery invited members of the Winston-Salem Police Department (WSPD) to discuss the rise in homicides and what they are doing to combat the issue. Without revealing information on the investigation, Chief Barry Rountree said the three homicides in the area, two on Barbara Jane Avenue and one on Cruise Street, were not random acts of violence.

“From what we’re seeing in these homicides and the other across the city, the victim and the suspect are connected. These are not random acts of violence.”

Rountree also discussed the citywide increase in homicides. This year, Winston-Salem saw homicides jump from 16 in 2015 to 23 so far this year. In response, the WSPD has increased patrols in problem areas and used overtime to put more officers in the streets but, more than anything else, Roundtree said they need more cooperation from the people in the community.

“We need information from you,” he continued. “We can’t solve a single crime without information from you. You have to get involved if you want to improve your neighborhood.”

John Brown, president of the Cityview Neighborhood Association, echoed Rountree’s statements and urged residents to do their part. He said, “We have to start looking out for our neighbors.

“If we come together as a community there will always be somebody watching,” said Brown. “We need to go back to the old days when the neighborhood was like a family.

“If every neighbor looks out for their neighbor, everybody is looked out for. A lot of things we can stop ourselves.”

For those who don’t want to get involved or don’t feel comfortable going to the police with information, Brown said he would go to the police for them. He also encouraged residents to attend the monthly neighborhood watch meeting held at the Public Safety Building.

Rev. Curvy Buford said although he doesn’t live in the neighborhood, when he was growing up in the city, officers had no problem getting out of their cars and connecting with the people they serve. He said that’s something he would like to see more of, especially in African-American communities.

“It seemed to me back then they were very proactive. Police in our neighborhood knew us and our families,” continued Buford. “I lived in this neighborhood for 20 years and when I came back it seems like that was completely gone.”

Montgomery, who represents the East Ward, said in order to keep the community safe for everyone, the fight against wrongdoers has to be  ongoing.

“It’s like riding a bike. If you want to ride your bicycle down a hill and you stop pedaling and hope you can coast to the bottom, but at some point you may stop,” said Montgomery. “If you want to get to the bottom of the hill, you have to keep pedaling.

“That’s what happens sometimes with community engagement. We start off good, then we stop pedaling. We have to keep pedaling, even when there’s no shooting or fighting going on in the neighborhood, we have to keep pedaling. ”

Following the meeting, Byrd said she felt good about the future of the neighborhood.

“This meeting was a step in the right direction. I know a lot has to be done to turn this neighborhood around, but I feel better about moving forward after talking with officers and others in the neighborhood.”

Anyone with information on the homicides on Barbara Jane Avenue, or Cruise Street should call Winston-Salem Crime Stoppers at 336-727-2800. 

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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