Gun violence on rise in Roanoke, remembrance event for victims planned

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A remembrance event for victims of gun violence will be held later this month.

It comes at a time that gun violence is on the rise in Roanoke when compared with the same time frame last year.

“Sometimes we don’t ever understand fully why an act of violence is committed,” says Roanoke Vice-Mayor, Joe Cobb.

WFXR has obtained data showing the first half of 2019 saw a sharp increase in aggravated assaults with a firearm, up from 25 in 2018 to 42 in 2019. The number of homicides with a firearm also increased during the same time frame, from four in 2018 to five in 2019. A task force to reduce gun violence has been formed in the city to try to combat that rise.

“We’ve had a couple initial meetings and at this point, we are identifying current community practices that address everything from prevention to support in the whole spectrum of gun violence,” says Cobb.

The task force is also trying to create opportunities for the community to heal, including the remembrance event to be held later this month. “Roanoke Remembers: Healing the Wounds of Gun Violence In Our Community” will be held Sunday, July 14th. Doors will open at 4 p.m. at William Fleming High School and the event will begin at 5 p.m.

“We want to explore a lot of those variables and figure out how we can strengthen our relationships with each other. Because I think that, more than anything in the long run, is going to deter and reduce incidents of gun violence,” says Cobb.

At an event in Roanoke held on Tuesday, Governor Ralph Northam spoke to reporters about his intention to introduce new gun laws to the Commonwealth.

“The pieces of legislation that we are proposing, which are common sense pieces of legislation, I would like them to go to the floor of the House and Senate. Let our legislators vote, I am confident if they do that we will have a safer Commonwealth to live in,” said Northam.

Those who have been impacted by gun violence are encouraged to bring photos of their loved ones to the remembrance event at William Fleming High School. Those unable to attend can also e-mail photos to clerk@roanokeva.gov

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