GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The number of murders in Greensboro this year is officially higher than in 2016 and is on pace to be the highest in seven years.
Over the weekend, the death of Timothy Frierson, 26, marked the 37th homicide of the year. Greensboro police said he was killed during an altercation at 836 Burbank St.
Greensboro Police Capt. Nathaniel Davis has been in law enforcement for 22 years and said he still can't figure out what's fueling the city's violent trend, what's causing people to grab guns as a means of conflict resolution.
"The sad thing is, it's not so much shocking, but it's saddening to me," Davis said. "We've had 394 shootings on the year, which is concerning."
That number still doesn't touch the 465 shootings in 2016, but it is consistent with the uptick in violent crimes police have observed over the last few years.
Of the 37 murders in 2017, GPD has attributed five to gang activity, and a little less than half to drug-related violence. One was found to be a case of domestic violence, and none were random. Of those cases, 16 have seen a culprit arrested and 17 are still active. The remaining four were "exceptionally cleared," meaning the shooter could have acted in self-defense, or if it was officer-involved, the amount of force used was determined to be justified.
The African-American community has been disproportionately affected by the violence -- 32 of the 37 victims were African-American, 29 men and 3 women.
"As an African-American man, it burdens my heart to see young African-American males time and time again be victims of these senseless crimes," Davis said. He added that one demographic can't be blamed, gun violence is a big picture issue that, at this point, should affect everyone in the city. That's why, he says, the community has to work together to find solutions -- and in the last few months, he says he's seen that happening.
"The community is growing tired of it," David said.
He thinks the exasperation is contributing to a massive increase in tips related to open homicide cases. They've also seen good feedback from the Gunstoppers program, an initiative that rewards tips about illegal guns with cash that can range from $200-$2,000. Davis said getting those illegal guns off the street is crucial to reducing the amount of gun violence.
The thing he said is the most crucial, though, is calling the community to action.
"We can do this together, we can address this trend, I think we have the resources, I think we have the will," Davis said. "How do we do it? I don't know."
GPD is part of several programs that he believes are a good start.
First is the Safer City Summit, where community leaders, organizations and law enforcement discuss issues involving youth, housing, public safety, employment and legislative concerns.
Another is the violent offender call-in,where violent offenders appear before community leaders, law enforcement, friends and family for an opportunity to leave behind a life of crime or suffer severe consequences. The Violent Crime Task Force, a partnership between community and law enforcement, started the project that lets past offenders know that their community won't tolerate future violence and help is available if they choose to change their lives. Offenders also got the opportunity to tell the panel what resources they could use to help them get on their feet.
"I want to see Greensboro as that place that other people look to and say, 'What are you guys doing?'" Davis said.
Here's a breakdown of number of homicides by year: