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Gun violence task force continues work, as incidents spike in Roanoke

Published: Jul. 17, 2020 at 8:08 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - A recent spike in gun violence was in the spotlight Friday, as members of a task force created to address the problem continued their work.

“It was a rough week for us here in the city, obviously,” said Roanoke Chief of Police Sam Roman.

Speaking to members of the gun violence task force, Roman noted the recent violence and the difficulty officers face as they investigate the crimes.

“We’ve seen in the six incidents we’ve had over the last week, very low cooperation and engagement not only from the victims, but the witnesses that were in the area at the time,” Roman said.

Although homicides are down compared with last year, the police department says aggravated assaults involving guns are way up.

And that, says Mayor Sherman Lea, is an urgent concern.

“We have to, and I say we, because I’m involved, and the council,” Lea said. “And we would like to try and resolve or try in some way to ensure the community that we’re doing all we can do to stem this gun violence.”

Members of the task force continue a wide-ranging discussion that will look to other communities for productive approaches, as they focus on issues like gang violence and repeat offenders.

“What kind of resources can we bring to ensure that these feuds are de-escalated,” Roman said, “so we don’t see the violence in the future.”

The task force was created last year and has already presented some recommendations, but members of city council asked the group to continue its work.

And members will meet again in two weeks.

Copyright 2020 WDBJ. All rights reserved.

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