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Police respond to string of shootings over the weekend in Winston-Salem

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Winston-Salem police are investigating a string of shootings over the weekend, totaling four victims. But, although only two of them are believed to be connected, all three shootings have one thing in common; they occurred in patrol beat 222.

“The young people don’t want to listen to the elderly people and they’re getting killed in the street,” said Mattie Young, who is known as the "Mayor of Cleveland Avenue." “The street is taking them out.”

The first shooting took place just down the street from Young’s home, shortly before 10 p.m. Saturday, where police reports show a 29-year-old man was robbed and shot.

“I’m concerned about 17th Street, because people got little children, and Saturday night a whole lot of children was playing and somebody’s child, baby, could’ve got killed,” Young said.

Just over 24 hours later, around 11:45 p.m. Sunday, police say they responded to 15th and 17th Streets after a report of another shooting. There, they found two juveniles suffering from non-life-threatening gunshot wounds. Both were transported to area hospitals.

“The one boy was laying on 15th Street, he was yelling, telling the other boys don’t leave him, don’t leave him.” Young detailed. “He was bleeding. The blood was out in the street this morning.”

Less than an hour later, police responded to another shooting, at 821 N. Cameron Ave. There, officers located 20-year-old Cherokie DeMichael Williams suffering from gunshot wound to the head.

Police believe Sunday night’s shooting is connected to Monday morning’s shooting. They add that Williams is in stable but critical condition.

“It does bother you because this is your community and you don’t want anybody hurt,” said Marva Reid, of the East/Northeast Winston Neighborhood Association.

All three of the shootings were in beat 222, where police say there has been a recent increase in violent crimes involving firearms. Data shows that from Jan. 1, 2016, to Sept. 25, 2016, there were a total of 31 violent offenses involving firearms in the beat area. That figure includes two homicides, eight robberies and 21 aggravated assaults.

However, thus far in 2017, that number nearly tripled, from 31 to 89, including one homicide, one rape, 19 robberies and 68 aggravated assaults.

“17th Street is out of control,” Young said.

Police say they are in the process of forming a violent crime initiative. Although the initiative is city-wide, it will primarily focus on areas where they see the most violent crime. Beat 222 is atop that list.

“It is much needed right about now,” Reid said.

With the goal of reducing gun violence, they plan to work with existing partnerships, other law enforcement agencies, community leaders and the Housing Authority of Winston-Salem to formulate a holistic approach.

Officers acknowledge that they can’t arrest their way out of the problem, so they must have buy-in from the community where they work together as one.

The department is currently gathering information to identify hot spots and determine which resources are available to them. They add that they are aimed at an educational and awareness aspect to their plan.

“We need to join together and make this a better community,” Reid said.

In the meantime, the department says they have increased patrols in the area.