Murder Downtown

WRAL is reporting that an individual was murdered downtown early this morning. The shooting was with a rifle, and beyond that there's not much more information.

Does anyone have more details about what happened? Any ideas on what the town can do to stop this trend of violent crime? It's become so seemingly routine that when some folks were robbed at gunpoint on Franklin St. a month or two ago it didn't merit any more coverage than a sentence or two in the Police Beat. I have a fair amount of faith in the Police Department and think they're doing the best they can, but I'm making it a point now not to walk by myself after about 10. Before this recent upswing (perceived or real?) in violent crime downtown I didn't give a second thought to walking anywhere at any time.



The Town Council, with strong support from the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, business owners and citizens approved 5 new police officer positions for downtown. The timeline for hiring and training the officers to start patroling downtown is February. It should be noted there are 168 hours in a week, if each officer works 40 hours that is 1 new officer 24/7 downtown.

The Police Department is well aware of 'trouble spots' downtown and do their best to provide coverage. Details are sparse in this case now, but there is no mention of a 911 call indicating a problem before the shooting.

Could this incident be gang related? There has been evidence of the presence of gangs with graffiti on walls.

This is a tragic and sad event for the entire community.

Good points Andrea- I agree that the Downtown Partnership and the Council have been putting a lot of effort into solving these problems- which is part of what makes it scary when bad things happen anyway.

Thank you for the strong leadership you and others have provided on this issue.

The N&O has slightly more information on the murder:

Since I arrived in Philly Friday for a conference, they have moved from 227to 233 murders as of this morning. The sad thing is that the one in Chapel Hill reads a lot like the ones here in Philadelphia.

Here's an updated link to the article in the N&O:

Doesn't surprise me, really. My friend is a driver at Gumby's and he had a pistol stuck in his ribs a few days ago as he was leaving.

And am I being paranoid, or have there been more folks with gang colors/wannabe gang bangers out this summer than usual? I know last night was particularly noticable after 2 when the bars let out.

The big question is, why do such things happen in Chapel Hill's downtown, but not in Carrboro (aside from sheer volume of traffic)?

I live in an apartment right next to this parking lot and heard the shots at 2am. At first I didn't think they were gunshots, they didn't sound real. Then I looked out the window and saw the commotion. Now there's just chalk marks.
There is very little question that this murder was premeditated and perhaps gang related. The weapon was not the kind of gun you just tote around, but a rifle. The killer was clearly waiting for the victim to come unarmed out of the club. The Avalon club screens people for weapons at the door. So in my mind the killer was pretty sure that the victim would be leaving the club unarmed at around 2am. They were prepared to shoot from a distance if necessary.
Does premeditated mean gang-related? I have no idea. Reading about the Gumby's driver worries me. Another guy told me this is the third shooting in two months.
The police are stationed at this "trouble spot" on a regular basis. I usually see two cars there when the club closes. I don't think lack of police presence has been the problem, though I don't know if they were there when this happened. I do know that dozens of people probably witnessed the shooting. The parking lot and surrounding area are generally packed when the club closes. If the police cannot find the killer because eyewitnesses are intimidated, then that's gang-related.

What I wonder is why a rifle was used from point-blank range (assuming reports of shell casings being found around the body are accurate).

I guess I wonder what causes a club like Avalon to seemingly attract trouble, while other clubs in the same general community don't.


It just seems odd that, if the impetus really was a shorter waiting period, but he intended to shoot the fellow from very close range,a rifle was selected rather than a shotgun. I'm thinking maybe someone grabbed a plinker or something that was lying around the home, but that's just semi-baseless speculation on my part.


I know I've seen a report or two of people using rifles on the West Coast, but the one account I actually read about featured, if I recall correctly, a sawed-off rifle used from some distance for something far less than a dozen shots.

If indeed this shooting was gang-related we shouldn't be too surprised that this kind of violence has started to appear in Chapel Hill. Durham has an estimated 2500-5000 gang members (depending on whose estimate you want to believe; the lower one being from law enforcement) and has 30 police officers assigned to gang-related activities. As Durham puts the "squeeze" on gang activity the most likely result will be that gang members seek more hospitable locales for their activities. I'm sure that it is not Durham's intent to "push" their problems off onto Chapel Hill but that this is just the natural effect of stepped-up police enforcement within a geographically-defined locality.

Anita- It's probably shades of gray. I don't think there's hardly a night when I walk past Player's after 2 and there not be a police car with its lights on out there.

Ted- Handguns take a permit and waiting period. You can just walk into Wal-Mart and get a rifle or a shotgun.

Getting some new officers is great. Deploying all of them downtown is misguided. We know that Chapel Hill is not isolated from regional trends (look at the last six weeks of gang violence in Durham) - including the growth of gangs and gang violence.

While, I believe, as of yet, no direct connection to gangs has been established, the influence of gang culture in Chapel Hill, from what I've heard, seems to be increasing. Avalon, though they've taken steps to improve in-club safety, has continued to be a magnet for violent assualts - and a number of incidents seem to involve gang members or gang "posers". In many cases, law enforcement was within ear shot of the incidents.

This killing, the recent beating, Apple Chill's shooting, and a growing list of additional downtown violent crimes should serve as a warning.

We should rebalance our police resources to work the gang problem - to build up strength within the community - by actively engaging the public to ward off this growing influence.

Andrea, I've also seen more tagging on downtown's walls - don't know if it's increasing or if I'm more observant (because of my increasing involvement in downtown issues - safety, development, cleanliness, etc.). Either case, it would be nice to develop the expertise within our police department (and to strengthen regional connections) to "work the issue".

Ted, I don't know if the use of rifles is rising, but the use of rifles in a number of recent Raleigh and Durham incidents seems to highlight their prevalence.

Chris, I've also noted a rise this summer in young men wearing a particular "uniform" around the club and late night Franklis St., but it's hard to say if it's a trend or if I just noticed a bit more given the recent beating downtown.

Descriptions are similar to those of the recently reported (HS) beating of a homeless man:

CHAPEL HILL -- The Chapel Hill Police Department is following up on several leads into the assault of a homeless man by 10 to 15 teenagers on Sunday morning.

About 12:30 a.m., the teenagers, who were dressed in black, baggy T-shirts, repeatedly punched a 49-year-old homeless man on the 100 block of East Franklin Street, according to reports. As the victim fell to the ground, the teenagers ran away, but one came back and punched him again, witnesses said. The victim was transported to UNC Hospitals for treatment of his injuries.

Police were unable to locate the teenagers....

A year and a day ago, on July 15, another homeless man reported he was attacked in an alley behind Franklin Street by a group of young men in white T-shirts, who reportedly sexually assaulted him with a toilet brush.

Chief Jarvies is going to review what additional actions can be taken, especially considering Avalon's business permit is up for review:

Chapel Hill Police Chief Gregg Jarvies said he already was planning to meet with the town manager today about whether to reissue a business permit to the Avalon nightclub on the 300 block of West Rosemary Street. The permit technically expired June 30, though the club was still legally open.


The N&O quoted Laurin Easthom as saying "it is real, not perceived" in relation to the violence downtown. I'm glad to see she gets it. I wish others did.

There have been numerous officials who have quite self righteously blamed the victim or business owners when it comes things people's complaints about aggressive panhandling, fears of being mugged, fears for employee safety, etc... Our own Downtown Partnership had self-defense training as one of the major legs of combating the "perception" of safety.

About 13.5% of the population of Chapel Hill is over 55. How many of those people do we see walking around, spending money on Franklin or Rosemary? People avoid areas they do not feel safe. Instead of going there they head to Meadowmont or Southern Village. I suspect a big part of that reason is they actually are safer there. How many shootings have been there? How many muggings? How often is someone asked for money when coming out of a restaurant? The answer, I believe, is zero.

The fact that it has taken Council, the Mayor, political luminaries in town so long to recognize the fact that people don't use downtown because they actually are less safe there than other places they can choose to spend their money is astonishing. If you don't feel reasonably confident about letting your 16 year old son or daughter or 80 year old grandparents walk down ANY of Chapel Hill's streets at any time then there is a problem. (with or without the Downtown Partnership's self defense training or body armor or whatever other crazy thought they have).

That should be the goal. Any street, anyone, anytime of day or night. Everyone should be safe to walk the streets in this town. Millions of dollars in development but we turn the place over to thugs.

Broken window ordinance. Stop everyone for every freakin thing they do wrong. Burned out headlight, you get a ticket. Going 25 in a 20, ticket. Loitering, ticket. Sleeping on a bench, ticket. Beat cops making the regular circuit on foot in the "known" areas as well as the rest of downtown. All graffiti cleaned off within a day or two, week at most.

Town Council can solve the world's problems and impeach Bush later. How about solving our Downtown problem now.

Tonight is Neighborhood Night Out, an event acknowledging the need to take back the streets from crime. Its a national event celebrated annually. The police departments (Chapel Hill and Carrboro) normally work with neighborhoods to sponsor this event coordinated by EmPOWERment.

Instructions for tonight's walk: To include as many as possible, the Chapel Hill group will begin walking from Pine Knoll Community Center (Johnson Street) at 6:00. The Carrboro group will begin at the Head Start Office in Carr Court in Carrboro. The two groups will meet at Carolina Carwash and continue with a police escort to Hargraves Community Center (Roberson Street) via the neighborhood. Non-profits will have tables set-up. There will be food, fun and entertainment at Hargraves. The Bouncing Bull Dogs have agreed to perform for us tonight and many other local groups.

Empowerment director Delores Bailey says they are expecting a fun time for the whole family! Bring your family, tell your friends! Tonight is the perfect time for this to happen. Please join us at either location.

Neighborhood night out? So we only need to make the streets safe on Tuesday nights huh? When's the last time something like this thread subject happened on a Tuesday? I think we ought to just let the violence and crime escalate, many of the prim and proper (read, people with money who vote) Chapel Hillians don't go downtown when this sort of things happens. Just decalre the area lawless (on the streets) for a few hours. Eventually we'll have the sort of segregated society that made the south famous. Oh and things don't happen like this in Carrboro because there are (to my knowledge) no clubs there that allow underage people in. Avalon is the only place I can think of that lets people who are not of age in to dance, although maybe Players does too. I'm not sure since I'm driving these people home at these times. Fear is good for business, just like war.

Hastur, Hastur, Hastur... it wouldn't *really* be lawless. Eventually there'd just be a militia of vigilantes. This is the South after all -- we all have more guns than any run of the mill gang member. ;-)

The type of weapon used is not of the highest importance, the type of people involved are of greater importance.

Take away the guns, you will still have the people fighting, take away the people, you will have neither.

Just Chapel Hill have a Project Safe organization? Maybe they should look into one:

take away the there's an idea. I'm pretty sure that's what the Spanish did during the Inquisition.

I'm curious, my anonymous friend, what 'Type' of person you would remove.



By closing establishments that cater to a certain type of clientele.

I got hasseled by some gang members (or wannabe gang members?) today at about noon, on the 100 block in front of Battle Hall.

I think there's something ridiculous about a 6'2", 200-lb. former Rugby player having to worry about walking around downtown in broad daylight.


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