CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said at the end of this first quarter of the year, there has been a 16% decrease in overall crime compared to this time last year -- but violent crime and gun cases have both increased.
"We are no way satisfied that any member of our community is victimized," deputy chief Stella Patterson said.
Patterson said in just the first quarter of the year, there were 22 homicides, 400 people reported assault with a deadly weapon and shots fired into 186 buildings.
"It is unacceptable to me to see that, and I know it is to you as well,” Patterson said.
Patterson said the guns are largely coming from unsuspecting community members.
"Many of the guns are stolen from people leaving them in cars, they're stolen from burglaries at home," Patterson said.
This is one of the reasons why Patterson said they urge people to lock up their guns.
Patterson said they’ve also noticed a pattern in who is committing these crimes.
"What we have seen consistently is that our gun crimes are usually committed by individuals 18-24 years old," Patterson said. "That’s disturbing to us because these are young adults, individuals who have a rich life in front of them.”
Patterson fears the crime may only get worse when school is out.
"There is a concern, we typically see as the weather warms up there is an increase in violence all around,” Patterson said.
Just last week, two kids just 14 and 15 years old were targeted and shot outside of a convenience store in Hoskins. Later that day a 7-year-old was shot in crossfire. New Outreach Christian Center pastor Brenda Stevenson said the community needs to start preparing to get kids into summer activities.
“You don’t wait for a hurricane to get ready for one, you prepare," Stevenson said.
It's Stevenson said the church is looking to gather communities together to come up with summer programs.
“They need something to do that’s structured, and we together can come up with providing that,” Stevenson said.
Patterson said CMPD has made preparations of their own, too.
"Due to the increase of crime and violent crime involving firearms, we made the decision earlier in the year to form a team that would focus exclusively and completely on gun crimes," Patterson said.
CMPD has released a schedule of its upcoming meetings, with information for those interested in learning more. Patterson believes this crime gun suppression team will help.
"It is our desire that we can identify those individuals early who are committing these crimes and get them out of the community so they don’t cause any further harm," Patterson said.