Roanoke police, organizations working to combat gun violence by helping impacted communities

Local News

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Leaders from the safer communities subcommittee and the F.E.D U.P. organization talked about how their groups are helping raise awareness about gun violence in response to the increase in shootings around Roanoke during the month of July.

Safer communities sub-committee leader Nicole Ross says both organizations have been working closely with the Roanoke Police Department and the city’s gun violence study committee to monitor data and formulate plans to work through this issue.

According to Ross, the subcommittee is trying to help where they can, by joining neighborhood watch programs to find out what communities need. It’s work that she says hits close to home for her because she’s known some of the victims.

“I can’t speak for everyone, but the folks that we come into contact with, they are discouraged, they are broken, and there is just a sense of not understanding why,” Ross said. 

“One of the young men last year who was murdered, actually came through our program. And one of the young men who actually took his life was also a part of my program,” she continued.

Ross said her committee has partnered with the group F.E.D. U.P., which helps families impacted by shooting violence.

“Whatever disagreement you have, whatever you’re doing out here in the streets, there are always going to be consequences to it. So, number one, you need to really slow your roll. Stop all of this,” said F.E.D. U.P. founding member Rita Joyce.

Thursday, July 30, marked 16 years since Joyce lost her son to gun violence, and now, she works with F.E.D U.P. to help others.

“I think if we let those know, the mothers who have lost a son, what you are doing by pulling the trigger, what you are doing is impacting us, so we need you all to stop the violence. Stop the gun violence,” Joyce said.

Since the start of July, Roanoke has seen 11 shootings, including three in Zone 1, four in Zone 3, and two in Zone 4. Due to the recent rise in gun violence, Ross said the safer communities subcommittee is working to make people feel more comfortable where they live.

“Roanoke violence is increasing more and more. Roanoke used to feel like a safe city, and we want to get back,” said Ross. “We want the city to feel safe. I work with young people. I hear the young people talking about the violence that’s happening in this community.”

Around this time last year, the city saw 16 aggravated assaults with a gun. This year, there have already been more than 30. Both the safer subcommittee and F.E.D U.P. say they will continue to spread awareness about gun violence and work to help community members impacted by these situations.

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