WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Winston-Salem police say they responded to 168 calls for shootings in January alone -- a figure which is up nearly 50 percent from January 2015 -- and Greensboro is dealing with a similar problem.
Winston-Salem officers say they responded to 86 calls for disturbances with weapons, discharging firearms, or discharging firearms into a dwelling or vehicle in January 2014. That number increased by 33 percent to 115 in January of 2015 and by 46 percent to 168 in January 2016.
For many, these shootings -- among other things -- have transformed once peaceful neighborhoods into virtual shooting ranges.
“You could practically sleep with your windows open at night,” recalled Christine Burgess, who has lived in her home in Winston-Salem’s east ward for over 30 years.
However, Burgess said about 20 years ago, the dynamic of her neighborhood began to change; and about three years ago, she had an experience she’ll never forget.
“They were shooting at each other down the street,” Burgess said, while recounting a day where she and her daughters were driving down Louise Road, only to come across two men in a shootout.
“My girls were crying, ‘Mama, mama, leave, leave, let’s leave, let’s leave,’” Burgess said, as she threw her car into reverse.
Burgess said her and her daughters sped backward, but one of the bullets ended up hitting her car.
“The gunshots, and firing weapons, that’s not good for anybody,” Burgess said.
Today, gunfire has become a reality for many living in certain Triad neighborhoods. This past weekend, Winston-Salem police responded to multiple discharging firearms calls in Burgess’ neighborhood alone.
Burgess told FOX8 that many times, the sound of gunfire comes from the area of Easton Park. During a quick sweep of the area, we found multiple shell casings and signs littered with bullet holes.
“You can’t really go back to sleep when you hear the first gunshot and then you hear some more later,” Burgess said.
From 12:01 Friday morning, 11:59 Sunday evening, Winston-Salem police say they responded to 15 discharging firearm calls in the city.
“You jump, call the police [and] say, ‘Somebody is shooting in the neighborhood,’ and then you can hear the sirens coming but, they don’t hardly ever catch anybody,” Burgess said. “[There is] really nothing they can do if they don’t see anybody or catch anybody.”
Greensboro police say they responded to 24 discharging firearms calls in the same time period over the weekend while High Point police say they responded to five.
“Everybody has firearms now in their homes, everybody,” Burgess said, of her neighbors.
Winston-Salem police say calls for disturbances with weapons, discharging firearms or discharging firearms into a dwelling or vehicle increased by 6 percent from all of 2014 to all of 2015.
Winston-Salem Police Captain Doug Nance told FOX8 that in his experience, there is typically some sort of connection between the shooter and victim when it comes to the shootings.
Greensboro police say they responded to 121 discharging firearms reports in January 2014 and 142 in January 2015.
Both Winston-Salem and Greensboro police said they have looked into placing devices throughout their cities, which pick up on the sound of gunfire and triangulate it to provide a location. However, they say the devices wouldn’t have worked due to the city’s layout, or weren’t reliable enough.
Both departments say the best form of detection is still residents calling in to report the shots.