As More Disputes Turn Violent, City's Murder Rate Rises, CMPD Says

Mar 29, 2017

Random shootings aren’t what’s driving the tripling of murders in Charlotte this year. Charlotte Mecklenburg Police say it’s usually an argument between people who know each other that escalates into a fatal shooting. Twenty-two people have been murdered in the city since Jan. 1. 

The deadly violence is more likely to affect African-Americans. Sixteen of the year's murder victims were black.  

At least two murders involved robberies, three were drug-related and six were domestic disputes. But CMPD Captain Cecil Brisbon says the biggest increase came from disagreements between people who knew each other.  

“People are not working to resolve their problems without resorting to gun violence,” Brisbon says. “They're not taking the opportunities to de-escalate. They're getting ramped up and then pulling out a gun. And we've talked about this before: Pulling out a gun is final. You can't come back from that.”

Police analyzed the rash of murders during their weekly press briefing at police headquarters. Fourteen homicides have involved handguns and five knives.  

Police are taking several tacks to respond, says Chief Kerr Putney, including increasing patrols in neighborhoods where murders are happening.

“We're in the hot spots across the city. We're seizing guns, we're trying to take those illegal guns off the street. We're focusing on those repeat offenders,” Putney says.

The chief says police also are focusing on people who have a history of gun violence.

“If I go from pointing a gun at you to shooting at a house to shooting at a car, it's not illogical that you might shoot a person,” Putney says.  

Other efforts have included an ongoing program that works with residents to reduce gun violence, and  youth diversion program that lets non-violent young offenders avoid arrest by going through training that introduces them to police officers and teaches conflict resolution and life skills.  

Community tips have helped police solve 15 of this year's murders already. That's more than two thirds, which Putney says beats the department's track record of solving about half of murder cases.