ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) – Roanoke City leaders held a news conference regarding increasing rates of gun violence.

During the news conference, Roanoke’s Mayor Sherman Lea said that a $50,000 fund is being established in reward money for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for committing a violent crime.

“Gun violence is a national crisis with a local impact,” Lea said.

Lea said that gun violence is increasing across the country as well as in Roanoke. He said that across the nation, over the recent Fourth of July holiday, 516 were injured by gun violence and 180 people were killed.

In Roanoke, there have been 40 instances of someone being struck by gunfire so far this year in Roanoke. Nine of those have resulted in homicides, Lea said.

Roanoke Police Chief Sam Roman says that the police department will continue to use every avenue open to them to help curb the violence in the city.

Roman said his department is working to configure an offender-based approach when it comes to combatting gun violence by identifying those who are responsible for continuously creating violence in the community.

In the last few weeks, Roman stated, his department seized over 25 firearms from individuals who, he said, should not be carrying them.

Roanoke Councilman Joe Cobb said three new jobs have been posted to fill open positions in the Youth and Gang Violence Prevention sector of its Community Services Department – including a prevention coordinator and two outreach workers.

Cobb also touted the work of the Gun Violence Prevention Commission, which he chairs. He said the commission has been focused on the causes of what leads to a path of violence in individuals as well as working toward leading those individuals to a better future which includes getting access to healthcare, addressing food insecurities, educational pathways, recreational and artistic opportunities, and workforce opportunities. He said that one of the main problems is that many of these have not made it to those who need them.

In an effort to help transition families from surviving to thriving in Roanoke, Cobb listed the following as active methods the commission is taking:

  • Prevention and intervention programs
  • Making neighborhoods safer
  • Piloting educational curriculums starting in elementary schools
  • Addressing gang activities and learning their language

Watch the full news conference below.

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