NC police chief calls for unity after Facebook controversy following slaying

Roxboro Police Chief David Hess released a statement on Facebook in response to Facebook comments the department received following a homicide. (CBS North Carolina)
Roxboro Police Chief David Hess released a statement on Facebook in response to Facebook comments the department received following a homicide. (CBS North Carolina)

ROXBORO, N.C. (WNCN) — Roxboro’s police chief is calling for unity after a fatal shooting sparked hate-filled social media posts.

Saturday night, 23-year-old Jalell Downey was shot and killed at an apartment complex, police said. Bennie Harris has been arrested connection with the homicide, according to police.

The killing also sparked an emotional response on the police department’s Facebook page.

“Some of those comments were racially charged, some of them had unjustified, political biases, inferences,” said Police Chief David Hess. “There were comments challenging potential retaliation.”

Hess couldn’t believe the comments, he said. He maintains they don’t represent Roxboro.

“This community is a community of love and a community of support,” he said.

In addition to deleting several comments, he sent out a message to the community. He said the hate that is being spread is delaying families’ healing. Enough is enough, he said.

“We have two families who are tragically forever changed as a result of this senseless act of violence,” he said.

CBS North Carolina tried reaching out to both families. Some were afraid to talk on camera for fear of retaliation. The suspect’s family said someone fire bullets into his home Sunday night while his children were inside.

Hess said his mission is to stop the violence.

“To make sure that the city of Roxboro is a vibrant, safe, quaint community where everyone can live and feel safe,” he said.

Monday night, Hess was set to meet with local pastors to discuss ways the community can spread love instead of hate.

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