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Editorial: Quick action on murders

Jalen Lamont Cook and Zakelo Duren are innocent until proved guilty. The fact that the men were arrested Tuesday confirms at least two things, though: Law enforcement agencies are focused like a laser on the double murder that took place in downtown Salisbury early Saturday morning, and people in the know are sharing information.

The shootout that killed Da’Quan Robertson and Anthony Gill has shaken the city. Kudos to Salisbury Police, the State Bureau of Investigation and the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office for their work on the case, from responding to the 2:15 a.m. call on Saturday to the arrests on Tuesday. And the case is far from over. Authorities are still investigating. Other arrests and charges may follow.

Cook faces two murder charges, and Duren is charged with inciting a riot. Both proclaim their innocence, and they deserve a fair and speedy trial.

Speedy trials benefit the accused and protect the community. Cook was charged in September 2015 in connection with a 2014 home invasion in  Rockwell, but he has yet to go to trial. If he had, Cook might have been in prison last weekend instead of becoming a murder suspect.

People in the community who are cooperating with police also deserve a nod. A curtain of silence tends to fall around gun violence in Salisbury; no one knows anything, supposedly. The difference this time may be that the Saturday shootings were not driven by gang rivalry, according to police. People involved were gang members, but this dispute was about something else that police have yet to disclose. At any rate, Police Chief Jerry Stokes said information from the public helped the investigation.

Meanwhile, police continue to investigate Shawn Spry’s death on Monday  — unrelated to the Saturday shootings. His body, bearing a gunshot wound, was found in the yard of a Link Avenue house. Let’s hope Spry’s case moves forward quickly also. 

Salisbury has seen tragic loss of life and human potential in the past five days. All of these men —victims and suspects — are from this area and in their early 20s. Police say the victims and the suspected shooters knew each other, and neither incident was random. If you’re worried about personal safety, that is somewhat reassuring — but far from satisfying. Something is terribly wrong when our young people shoot each other and wind up dead or behind bars. Stopping the carnage requires work by police, the community and families who have the power to set their young people on the right path.

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