A new 14-person housing unit to combat Wilmington’s recent increase in gang violence will be finalized over the next week, combining law enforcement officials from the city and New Hanover County.
At a press conference held at Wilmington City Hall on Oct. 14, city and county officials addressed the recent rash of gang-related violence, which included last week’s shooting of a county sheriff’s deputy and Sunday’s subsequent killing of the suspect by deputies involved in the case.
Sgt. J.J. Brewer from the county sheriff’s office explained that the initiative was related to those events. Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous added that in the past several months, local officers have made more than 100 arrests connected to gang activity. He told reporters at the press conference the gang violence is a result of an ongoing feud between the city’s Bloods and Crips.
“These groups, and certain sects, are battling over women, drugs and territory,” Brewer said. “They also launched an effort to retaliate against witnesses in one of our gang-related cases.”
The new unit will comprise seven city police officers and seven sheriff’s deputies.
“Crime does not know borders,” New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Chairman Woody White said. “It’s important that we all focus and work together, continuing the tradition that we have over many years of joining hand in hand to solve problems.”
New Hanover County Sheriff Ed McMahon emphasized a focus on building relationships within the affected communities.
“We’re going to gain their trust, and we’re going to show the criminal element that we will not tolerate this anymore,” McMahon said. “It’s got to be the community. It can’t just be us.”