At least five shootings in Roanoke in less than a week; we take a look at the data

Roanoke Valley News

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — At an October 2019 press conference, then-U.S. Attorney for the Western District, Thomas Cullen, predicted that 2019 homicide rates would be higher than the statistics for the previous year.

After at least five shootings in Roanoke in less than a week, we wanted to dive into the data and compare.

We began requesting data on gunfire-related crimes in January of this year. However, at the time, we asked for gunfire-related crimes to be broken down into two categories-one where someone was shot, and one where someone wasn’t. For instance, someone may have pistol whipped another person without discharging the weapon.

We received a response from the Office of the City Attorney telling us our request would cost $1,892.05 to fulfill. We modified our request at that time, instead asking only for the total number of aggravated assaults.

In September of this year, we once again requested data on gunfire-related crimes. This time, we were provided the data free of charge since the police department was already collecting that data at the request of the Study Committee to Reduce Gun Violence.

Here’s where we stand after a series of shootings in Roanoke this past weekend. All data provided is from Jan. 1 to Oct. 26.

According to data provided by the Roanoke City Police Department, from Jan. 1 through Oct. 26 of 2018, there were seven incidents of homicides in which someone was struck by gunfire. In 2019, during that same time period, there were 11 incidents of homicide in which someone was struck by gunfire. So far this year, from Jan. 1 to Oct. 26, there have been a total 10 incidents of homicide in which someone was struck by gunfire.

Data was also provided on aggravated assaults in which someone was hit by gunfire. For the same time period, from Jan. 1 through Oct. 26, there were 31 incidents of aggravated assault in 2018 in which someone was struck by gunfire. The following year, in 2019, there were 22 incidents of aggravated assault in which someone was hit by gunfire. For this year, from Jan. 1 through Oct. 26, there were 39 incidents of aggravated assault in which someone was hit by gunfire.

Since this data is only through Oct. 26, it does not include the shooting from Wednesday, Oct. 28, in southeast Roanoke that injured four people, or the shooting that occurred the afternoon of Thursday, Oct. 29.

At a news conference earlier this month, city officials promised to work on reducing the gun violence through intervention, prevention, and policing. On Wednesday afternoon, the same day as the shooting in southeast Roanoke, police officers visited with residents in the area of Gayle Street where someone was shot and killed this past weekend.

There have only been a few homicides this year in Roanoke that have not involved gun violence. Ryan Reilly’s cousin, Cassandra Pizzi, died in March of this year from blunt head injuries. Since then, Reilly has been determined to find a way to honor Pizzi and other Roanoke homicide victims.

“Their families deserve to know that even in their passing that their life was not for nothing and that they will always be remembered,” said Reilly.

Since Pizzi’s middle name is Starr, Reilly wants to create a memorial known as the Starr Trail Memorial Park & Garden. The garden would feature ceramic stars, one for each homicide victim in Roanoke this year.

“The impact of the loss of one life has an adverse ripple effect on the community as a whole and I just think they deserve a place to be able to remember these individuals,” said Reilly. “They have a story and it doesn’t end on the ten o’clock news on a Friday night.”

To learn more about Reilly’s efforts, you can follow the Facebook group Coffee 4 Cassie.

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