Winston-Salem on pace for 20+ homicides for 3rd straight year

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Tuesday’s double homicide in Winston-Salem has put the city on pace to match last year’s total number of homicides, which was 21. If that happens, the city would reach 20 homicides for the third straight year; an unprecedented stretch in the 21st century.

Police identified Tuesday’s victims as 23-year-old Gregory Louis Mobley Jr. and 19-year-old Jeremiah Christian Hardy-Praylor. Guilford County Schools officials tell FOX8 Hardy-Praylor graduated from Northeast Guilford High School in 2017 and was an honor roll student-athlete. Winston-Salem State University officials say he was a rising sophomore at the university. They also say Mobley was a student at the university from fall of 2013 to fall of 2016.

Detectives say the men were found dead of apparent gunshot wounds inside Hardy-Praylor’s parked Isuzu Rodeo on Glencairn Road shortly after 12:20 p.m. Tuesday.

“It breaks people’s hearts to know that happened to a kid that didn’t deserve it,” Winston-Salem State rising sophomore Montrell Webb said.

Mobley and Hardy-Praylor’s ages are part of a troubling trend both in Winston-Salem and nationwide.

Hardy-Praylor is the 15th 19-year-old homicide victim since 2002 in the city and Mobley is the 14th 23-year-old homicide victim in the city since 1999.

Of all the homicide victims in Winston-Salem in the 21st century, people ages 19 to 25 are being killed at the greatest rate.

“I think that age range, they’re in limbo with school and employment probably,” Winston-Salem police Sgt. Greg Dorn said. “That’s been the majority of the age group, even from the 70s.”

In the 2000s, the highest number of unjustifiable homicides in the city was 26, in 2007, and the lowest was six, in 2012.

After the 26 homicides in 2007, the number of homicides in Winston-Salem did not reach the 20s again until 2016, when there were 22.

“People don’t care anymore,” Winston-Salem State University rising junior Ania Dawson said. “[To them] it’s OK to kill.”

“No matter what you’re doing in life, where you may be in life, you can become a victim of violence,” Dorn said, detailing the message officers try to portray to youth in the city. “It doesn’t seem real to them, I think, until it happens. Then it becomes very real for their friends and family.”

Dorn says the department is well above the national homicide solve rate. ​