Editorial: Help police solve this crime

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 6, 2016

Saturday morning’s double shooting behind the J.C. Price American Legion Post, killing one man and critically injuring his brother, brings attention again to the city’s struggle against crime.

Police have released few details of what happened or why, if they know, but the incident follows a too-familiar pattern of young black men being felled by bullets. The dangerous atmosphere of attack and retaliation that has taken hold in some corners of the city has erupted into gunfire again. A man has died. 

And someone else has become a killer.

Down 12 members, the Police Department needs more manpower and leadership to break this deadly dance. Training and resources are essential, too. But police cannot fight crime alone. They need help from citizens. They need information from people who witness or hear about crimes.

Police are dealing with the results of deep problems in our society — unemployment, poverty, teen pregnancy, poor literacy, drug abuse, broken families and much more. These problems create an atmosphere in which gangs thrive, and gangs drive the cycle of violence and revenge plaguing many American cities.

Police have not said what if any role gangs played in the killing of Devon McGee and shooting of his brother, Antoine, on Saturday, but the incident revived memories of young Treasure Feamster, only 13, getting killed in gang crossfire at the same spot in 2007. Fast forward to 2016: A fist fight that started inside the Legion Post moved outside and became a fire fight.

The national homicide rate in 2011 was 4.44 deaths per 100,000 people, according to the FBI, and blacks were far more likely to be victims. The black homicide rate that year, 17.54 per 100,000, was almost four times the overall rate and six times the white rate of 2.64 per 100,000. Something is terribly wrong when violence skews so heavily toward one segment of our society — a segment just as vital to the community as every other.

Local groups have formed to help stop the violence and bring young people hope. Examples include the Nightcrawlers, who walk as a group through neighborhoods to offer prayer and conversation, and Man Up Mondays, which sends black pastors and businessmen and others into the schools as mentors. Several more programs are doing good work with youth, too.

None of that takes pressure off Salisbury Police to solve the Legion Post shootings and make arrests. The community needs to help. Anyone with information about the shootings is encouraged to call Salisbury Police at 704-638-5333 or Crime Stoppers at 1-866-639-5245. Information can be shared anonymously. Please call if you know something that would help.