CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department held an urgent press conference Monday to discuss recent homicides in the city, and stress the message of witnesses speaking to police.
CMPD Police Chief Johnny Jennings says there have been 22 homicides since June 2. There have been five homicides in the last five days.
Charlotte has had 59 homicides in 2020, compared to 56 at the same time in 2019, according to Chief Jennings. Jennings says nine of the victims have been under the age of 18.
“One life lost is one too many, but when you have five over a weekend, and two of them 17 or younger, then we should really be looking deep within ourselves and making sure that we’re doing enough to keep our city safe,” Chief Jennings said.
The clearance rate on the homicides is 64 percent, the chief said.
“But even with the 64 percent clearance rate, that’s not enough for us,” Chief Jennings said.
Chief Jennings says the police department needs the help of the public and witnesses to crimes to solve cases.
“We have to be able to say, as a city and as community, we’re not going to tolerate this,” Chief Jennings said. “Police can stand out in front of you right now and I can tell you that we need your help. When these things happen we need people to step up and we need people to come to us, and help us to solve these cases.”
Charlotte Mecklenburg police investigators spent the weekend tracking down leads as people were shot and killed each day.
Saturday night, 52-year-old Allen Smith was shot and killed in his car outside of a BP gas station on E. W.T. Harris Blvd.
Sunday around 3 p.m., 17-year-old Cory McKinney was shot and killed on Cushman Street in North Charlotte.
Three hours later at 6 p.m., 21-year-old Delvin Teah was shot and killed on Margie Ann Drive in the University City area.
“He was one of those people that always made your day and had the biggest smile and an even bigger heart. He would go to the moon and back for his family and friends. His name meant God’s gift, and that’s truly what and who he was to anyone he ever met,” a family friend of Teah tells WBTV.
Around 2 a.m. Monday, 16-year- old Vontairius Doster was shot and killed at the South Side Homes subsidized housing complex on Griffith Street in South End.
Charlotte activist Curtis Hayes says we need to take action to break this cycle of violence.
Hayes went viral after calling on Charlotte’s youth to find a better way during the 2020 protests.
“We’re fighting the world for our young men and women, and now we have to constantly fight the neighborhoods, the communities the individuals, who I call baffoons, causing chaos,” Hayes said.
CMPD officers say the violence should not be tolerated.
“16 year old, 17 year old, 21 year old, these people haven’t even started living their lives,” CMPD Major Rob Dance said.
Police are frustrated that people won’t talk. They say witnesses on scenes tell officers they did not see anything.
“You know how many people have been down here to talk to us about it?” Major Dance asked. “Zero.”
Hayes says beyond talking, we need action.
“We need to get these programs started back up to in these communities to give these teenagers outlets,” Hayes said. “They have no outlets.”
Neighbors live in fear.
“They be shooting everywhere,” one neighbor at the Southside Homes told WBTV.
Hayes says he understands the distrust, but we owe it to the victims to work with police.
“There are still people who care what’s going on in these communities, so if you see something, speak, because these families need to have that sense of closure,” he said.
Police have not made any arrests in the cases. They ask anyone with information to call detectives at 704-432-TIPS, or contact Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.