MONROE, N.C. — Monroe, North Carolina, is a city just outside Charlotte with a population of fewer than 40,000 people. But this year, the small city has a big problem.
Monroe police say just eight months into the year, six people have been killed. The chief of police said in 2020, the city had two homicides.
At Monday’s Public Safety Committee Meeting held at Fire Station #4, located off Old Charlotte Highway, Monroe’s Chief of Police said two of the 6 homicides were still unsolved. He said he knows there were witnesses to both, but so far no one has come forward.
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It prompted one member of the community to raise her hand and propose better educational opportunities to teach teens the difference between calling 9-1-1 and calling Crime stoppers, saying she doesn’t think teens know that Crime Stoppers is anonymous.
The police department does offer programs to youth, including a camp happening this week, but said when it comes to teens, teens simply aren’t showing up. The police department said they are currently working on a way to incorporate video games into programming to better reach the 16- to 18- year old age group.
But one member of the community stood up and volunteered to instead go to the teens, offering to go and educate them at the local high schools. He believes many teens also don’t understand the law. He believes teens don’t always understand that even though they may not have been the ones to pull the trigger if they’re in the car, they’re still committing a crime.
Among those killed this year include 13-year-old Loyatli Allah, who police said was shot and killed this July in a drive-by shooting. Police say Allah was sitting at a picnic table with other kids when the shots were fired.
Then in August, Monroe police said 25-year-old Desha Franklin showed up at a Union County hospital with a gunshot wound, but later died.
“She wanted to raise her kids, she wanted to do something with herself -- just cut her short before she got her chance,” said her mother, Erica Allen.
And then on Aug. 1, police say they found a 24-year old shot to death in front of a home on South West Street. Police say a fight broke out at a party leading to multiple shots fired, but say no one has come forward and his killer remains on the loose.
"Folks are seeing these things happen. Folks are knowing that these things are happening in their front yards, in their backyards – and we're not getting the cooperation to bring justice to these victims that we need to,” said Pete Hovanec, spokesperson for the City of Monroe.
Also at Monday’s meeting was Rev. James Barnett, founder of Stop the Killing Crusade, a faith-based, direct-action organization that was formed for the purpose of fighting drug-related crimes in predominately African-American communities in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area.
Rev. Barnett said he was joining the meeting hoping to help police in Monroe.
“The number one killer of young Black men is other young Black men,” he said. “And nobody can save us from us, but us.”
The Rev. says he hopes to engage members of Monroe’s faith community saying action needs to come from the top.
After Monday’s Public Safety meeting, a group consisting of community members and police stayed to workshop different solutions.
Contact Ashley Daley at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.