Overnight homicide is 260th gun related incident in Roanoke City this year

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) - In the early hours of Wednesday morning, two people were shot and killed near Southwest Roanoke. Roanoke City Police have not yet identified the victims nor have they named a suspect .

"I woke up at 4:30 this morning and usually when I wake up there's not a lot of traffic going down my street," said Falesha Hoskins who lives near the 800 block of Orange Avenue. "And I looked at my dad and I was like, why is there traffic coming down the street?"

What Hoskins later learned was that police had found a car just behind her house on Orange Avenue. Three people inside had been shot.

"If you walk down here to the bush, and you walk through the parking lot, there's orange," she said, "like orange spray paint where the car was parked."

Roanoke City police report they were patrolling near Patterson Avenue just before 2 a.m. when they heard several shots fired nearby.As officers headed to Orange Avenue and 11th street they say they saw a car heading east on Orange.

That car stopped in the 800 block of Orange Avenue. When police looked inside they found three people who'd been shot. A woman inside was pronounced dead on scene. The two men inside were taken to Roanoke Memorial Hospital where one of them later died.

Police have made no arrests and haven't told us who the victims are.
Hoskins said it was an unusual morning, but the violence was anything but.

"Probably like a month ago, something happened on my street like that and he tried to break into my house," she said. "He got shot here on Hanover and wound up on Orange so he tried to break in my car, so it's nothing new to me."

Roanoke Police say they're asking for the public's help as they continue investigating. It's one of several homicides they've been actively investigating this year. Even before last night's incident, WDBJ7 had requested data from Roanoke Police to break down what gun violence in the city looks like right now.

"I don't care if you rep this hood or this hood, let's all come together so we can like build a community and like stop taking away our friends and our family members," said another neighbor, Davante Terry.

When he learned about the overnight double homicide, he said he was frustrated.

"It's just, it's sad how what Roanoke is coming to," Terry said. "Like people have kids. You don't want your kids growing up around that."

According to Roanoke Police Department, from January 1 up until midnight Tuesday night, there have been more than 259 incidents involving firearms in the city.

If we include this morning's double homicide, there have been 12 new weapons related new incidents in the last six days, when we first requested this data. The vast majority are weapons law violations with aggravated assault taking second place and Robbery of a Person in third. It appears as though the city's 8th district, located in northwest, has the highest recorded incidents so far this year. A spokesperson for the police department says so far, those numbers are about even with last year's and declined to comment further.

Terry said he's lost three friends to gun violence in the city in the last two years. He's not the only one who's fed up.

"When l learned about the double homicide last night, I thought, we just had a remembrance service and here are two more deaths of people who didn't need to die," said Vice-Mayor Joe Cobb.

Cobb helps lead the newly developed Gun Violence Task Force which held a memorial service for victims of gun violence just this weekend.

The task force now has elected leadership and is actively working toward solutions.

"The task force was really borne out of a desire for local government to work with citizens to come up with meaningful and practical solutions, short term and long term, that can really begin to change the culture," Cobb said.

Cobb said the task force was created around June when the city council received its annual report from the city. Cobb said he was particularly concerned by the number of suicides in the city. He thinks city council support will help legitimize their efforts. He believes helping people learn how to communicate better and enhancing access to resources will make a difference.

"I think the more broad based it is and almost street level where people are really connecting with each other and talking with each other about these things and have access to the resources they need," Cobb said, "then we'll begin to see more substantial changes."

For Terry, change can't come soon enough.

"The violence, I mean when is it gonna end," he said. "Like, it don't make no sense anymore."

In an effort to change that Vice Mayor Cobb says the next task force meeting will be August 5. The community is invited to attend the meeting to give input as well.