2 Christmas Eve killings lift Durham’s yearly homicide toll to 43

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Two Christmas Eve murders in Durham brought the number of homicides in the city to a total of 43 this year.

Durham police say that is the highest number of homicides in a year since 1980.

Of those 43 homicides, the community and police believe gangs play a part.

Vegas Don lost his son to gun violence in 2014.

“It’s like someone took my heart and just ripped it apart, he said. “I just really was so angry, angry with the world.”

On December 17, 2014, Don got a phone call no parent ever wants to get.

His son, Holly Lyons, also known as “Tez,” was shot and killed.

“I blamed it on everybody, and even myself, because I was like, why is my son gone,” he said.

Vegas says his son’s murder was gang related, and the reason the father was mad at himself, was because, years ago, he too was also in a gang — that he started.

“It’s a lot of things that has to happen to stop this gang culture, this gang epidemic,” Vegas said.

Police say there were 42 homicides in Durham in 2015.

Vegas says in order for change to happen,  the minds of children must change first.

After the gang life, he now works to keep children busy with basketball games and community service.

Vegas hopes that will make some difference so that next year, another 43 families don’t have to go through what he did.

“The community can do more, families can do more, the police department can do more,” he said. “I think we all need to come to the table, all of us and let’s talk about some real issues and make some solutions out of these issues.”

Over the past two months the Durham Police Department has been recruiting officers to work in the department to fight gangs.

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