ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. (WNCN) — There have already been more homicides in Rocky Mount this year than last year, but police still say violence crime is down.
On Wednesday, Javius Delshaun Murphy, 16, died after being shot in Rocky Mount. A witness tells CBS North Carolina the teen was found lying behind a group home on Colby Court after being shot in a nearby park.
Murphy was taken to Nash Health Care, where he died, police said. Police said Wednesday they were investigating the shooting as a homicide and do not believe the shooting to have been a random incident.
“Things like this are very devastating and very unfortunate but they can happen,” said Tony Ellington, who lives on Colby Court. “This should be a concern for everyone.”
The shooting comes less than a month after three teens were charged in connection with the death of a 19-year-old at a Rocky Mount motel.
The killings are a concern for community leaders, who say crimes that involve teenagers rise during the summer when school is out.
“It’s heartbreaking when you hear about people dying and knowing that their potential is gone — not only from the person that died, but from the person who pulled the trigger,” said Ron Green, CEO of the Boys and Girls Club in Nash and Edgecombe County. “They do things that they feel like they have to do to survive, and, a lot of times, it’s going to have them end up in the graveyard or in prison.”
Wednesday’s murder marks the seventh homicide in Rocky Mount in 2017. That’s already more than the four the city had in 2016 and on pace to surpass the 13 it saw in 2015.
Despite the rise in homicides, Rocky Mount police say there has been a 33 percent decrease in overall violent crime for the first six months of 2017.
“Our community and constitutional policing philosophy guided our persistence and determination to enhance the quality of life in Rocky Mount through astronomical violent and property crime reductions over the past 5 ½ years,” said Rocky Mount Police Chief James Moore, who declined an on-camera interview but issued a statement to CBS North Carolina.
Community leaders say there’s more that needs to be done in order to reach some of these kids who get involved in gang violence as young as middle school.
“A lot of them who are involved in gang activity, a lot of them have the potential to be great leaders,” said Green. “But they’re leading people in negative ways right now and we gotta get them to lead them in a positive way.”
No arrests have been made in Wednesday’s murder. Police are asking anyone who was in the area at the time to call Lt. King at (252) 972-1455 or Twin County Crime Stoppers at (252) 977-1111. Tips can also be sent via Text – A- Tip by texting RMPOL and a message to CRIMES (274637).