Gaston County community tries to find ways to stop a recent rash of violence

Since late May, WBTV has reported on at least 2 shootings and 2 killings in the Highland community in Gastonia.
Police say they don't have any suspects in this latest shooting, and that violence in the area is nothing new.
Published: Jun. 22, 2022 at 9:33 PM EDT
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GASTONIA, N.C. (WBTV) - Right now, a Gaston County community is trying to find ways to stop a recent rash of violence.

Since late May, WBTV has reported on at least 2 shootings and 2 killings in the Highland community in Gastonia.

That includes a deadly shooting Tuesday morning in the area of Rankin Avenue.

Police say, they don’t have any suspect information for this latest deadly shooting, but the violence in this neighborhood and the Highland community has been going on long before that.

WBTV spoke to someone who says, he could have the answer to stopping the violence.

Community marks two-year anniversary of Beatties Ford Road shooting that killed four

“So in the recent shootings, I knew some of the guys, they grew up playing right here at the Erwin Recreation Center, " Erwin Center Director George Fulwood said.

For Fulwood, the recent violence in the Highland area hits close to home.

“I see these guys all the time, coming in here playing basketball, and I’m always talking to them, but when they leave this place, I don’t know what they’re doing,” Fulwood said.

But he knows about the crime that’s been a constant in the community.

Outside of the center, just minutes away, neighbor Sam Wright said, “Yeah you see some things coming on. I mean, I hear some shots sometimes—I ignore that.”

Wright woke up to a crime scene this week.

Police say, a man was murdered in the area of Rankin Avenue, which is outside Wright’s home.

“I know when I came here this ain’t the Holiday Inn around but also I see, you know, things go on but I don’t get involved with that,” Wright said.

Some want to get involved in changing the narrative.

Fulwood is trying to do that with a new group called “101 Black Men for Highland.”

“We’re trying to get 101 black men together to hit these streets, go knock on these gang members’ doors, try to get the community back to make it feel like it’s a safe place for everyone in the Highland community,” said Fulwood.

Fulwood’s hopeful meeting people where they are could help lead to change.

“We’re taking all types of demographics but we say 101 black men because these young black boys can relate to us. They know where we’re coming from, and we can kind of know where they’re coming from,” said Fulwood.

Gastonia Police say they’re investigating several issues that may be causing violence in the Highland area from gangs to drug activity.

They’re asking officers here to be more visible.

But they need your help. If you know something, contact the police. You can stay anonymous.

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