Police in Burlington are once again turning to members of the public to help muzzle a series shootings that has rattled the city since the gunfire originally broke out in July.
The city’s police department has acknowledged that this ongoing shooting spate reached something of a crisis point over the weekend, as the agency’s switchboards lit up with reports of gunfire in four separate locations.
Brian Long, an assistant chief with the city’s police department, didn’t exactly mince words when he briefed Burlington’s city council about this outburst of gun violence on Monday.
“Yesterday, in the span of about ten hours,” he told the council during a work session that evening, “we had numerous shots-fired calls or shootings in the 500 block of Key Street, in the 100 block of Brooks Street, and in the 700 block of Sharpe Road, and then on Floyd Street in Burlington.
“One of those incidents resulted in a death,” the assistant police chief continued. “Another incident resulted in an individual being shot in the ankle, and another individual in a house…was struck in the hand by a stray bullet.”
UPDATE: Friday, Long announced an increase in the reward being offered by Crimestoppers – to $5,000 – for information leading to the arrests of those involved in the shootings.
Long went on to acknowledge that he and his colleagues already have a bead on some of the suspects involved in these shootings. He noted that the department’s investigators have identified “a small group of people” who are responsible for much of the gun violence – along with other crimes such as car thefts and vehicle break-ins that have also occurred in the area.
“Some of these individuals are juveniles,” he added, “making it difficult for investigators to identify them and prosecute them when identified.
“They’re involved in two or three different types of crime,” the assistant police chief went on to recall of the suspects. “They steal cars, and after they’ve stolen a car, they conduct multiple break-ins overnight of other vehicles. Unfortunately, they sometimes find firearms in some of those cars.”
Long told the council that these cliques of young lawbreakers haven’t limited their activities to Burlington’s city limits. He noted that incidents outside the city’s borders have drawn in the sheriff’s offices in both Alamance and Orange counties as well as some added assistance from state and federal agencies.
Long acknowledged that the various agencies which are battling this crime wave have achieved some success in their efforts. In fact, officials from several of these agencies were on hand to report on the progress they’ve made when Alamance County’s sheriff Terry Johnson convened a news conference on August 13 to address the summertime shootings.
Yet, the pressure from law enforcement hasn’t completely silenced the gunfire in Burlington – as Long effectively conceded when he briefed Burlington’s city council on this weekend’s shootings.
During the council’s work session, the city’s assistant police chief insisted that it will take some concerted action from the public at large to quell the city’s problem with gun violence. In order to deprive the perpetrators of their ill-gotten arsenals, Long encouraged residents to lock their cars and secure any firearms they own. He also urged members of the public to report crimes that they witness and provide law enforcement with information about potential suspects.
“We understand that fear is present in our community as it relates to turning people in for gun violence,” he added. “But we won’t be able to accomplish reducing gun violence alone.”
Long emphasized that residents can always leave anonymous tips for police by calling the county’s Crime Stoppers hotline at 336-229-7100. He also plugged the police department’s new P3 Tips App as well as the Crime Stoppers’ website, which can be accessed at alamancecs.org.
Long said that the police department is particularly eager for information about this weekend’s shootings, which include one along the 700 block of Sharpe Road with no reported injuries, another along the 500 block of Key Street where an “innocent” victim was wounded, and a third along the 100 block of Brook Street in which a man was slain by acquaintances.
Police are also seeking additional information about a shooting along 700 block of Floyd Street that has already resulted in at least one arrest. The police department is still seeking additional suspects in that incident, which left one person wounded. The department has released a security image of a vehicle that was apparently used by the perpetrators in the hope that members of the public can help with their identification.
Ways to contact Alamance County Crimestoppers anonymously: