SALISBURY, N.C. – A recent wave of violent crime has residents in Salisbury on edge as a number of communities plan to join in on National Night Out events Tuesday.
The annual event, which was founded in 1984, is a way for local neighborhoods and police forces to join together in an effort geared toward taking a stand against violent crime.
“Every time we look around, somebody’s killing somebody, or somebody’s shooting somebody,” said Roy Sims.
On Monday, police found a man dead of a gunshot wound in the front yard of a home on South Link Avenue. It was the third homicide in as many days in Salisbury, after two men were shot and killed early Saturday.
“He didn’t hang out with no crowd, so they can’t lie and say it’s a gang thing,” said Sharon Matthews, the grandmother of 23-year-old Daquan Robertson, who was one of the men killed. “He doesn’t do anything. He works, he’s got a girlfriend and stuff. If you don’t go nowhere, what is going on? Why are they marking my family?”
Sims said he won’t be participating in National Night Out because he is concerned about his personal safety. He says it’s gotten so bad that he doesn’t consider spending any time outside after dark these days.
“The way crime is, a lot of people getting shot over the weekend, it was unbelievable,” said Cloyd Owensby. “It’s getting like Chicago.”
According to a Salisbury city council member, there are 19 unsolved homicides in the city. The Salisbury Police Department has not confirmed that figure or answered NBC Charlotte's requests for statistics.
Owensby said he doesn’t know if events such as National Night Out will curb the violence, but it’s a start.
“(They) need something to bring them together, I don’t know what that is,” Owensby said.
According to city officials, 20 Salisbury communities will observe National Night Out Tuesday with free music, food, children's games and other outdoor activities featuring the Salisbury Police Department.
"National Night Out is another opportunity for the police department and other city departments to engage the citizens of Salisbury in conversations and build relationships through dialogue and getting to know one another," said Police Chief Jerry Stokes. "Over the past year, we have worked hard toward building the community through crime prevention and reducing the fear of crime. This can only be achieved when the police department has a solid link to those we serve."