A bullet that tore into a house on Hyde Park Avenue.
A makeshift memorial with balloons, stuffed animals and a bottle of tequila outside the McDougald Terrace public-housing community.
A dead man and his shoes hanging from an open car door on Lakewood Avenue.
These are the images that remain after three people were killed and another three, including a 14-year-old girl, were wounded by gunfire last weekend and Monday night.
Durham’s violent crime rate jumped 13.5 percent in the first six months of the year, compared to the same time last year. On Monday, the Police Department will update the City Council on crime in Durham through the third-quarter of the year.
The statistics weren’t ready to be distributed Thursday, Police Department spokesman Wil Glenn said. City Manager Tom Bonfield said he expects them to show a 16 percent increase in violent crime over the same time last year.
As of Thursday, there had been 33 homicides in Durham this year, compared to a total of 22 in all of 2014 and 30 in 2013.
The 33 homicides include one officer-involved shooting, three self-defense cases and a 2011 incident in which the victim died this year, according to police.
Ten of the homicides have been domestic – including four in which the victims were 3 years old or younger.
There are 10 open cases, according to Police Department spokeswoman Kammie Michael. A warrant has been issued in an 11th case, but not served yet.
In addition to the murders, 168 people have been shot this year or injured from other items hit by bullets, according to police. This number includes self-inflicted wounds, but does not include homicides or suicides.
“I just think it is too many, but I am not sure what we can do,” said Mina Hampton, 87, co-chairwoman of the Durham Chapter of Parents of Murdered Children. “I wish I knew how to solve this.”
The shootings just seem to be increasing.
“The sad part about it is that we are losing our young people for no reason,” said Hampton, whose 36-year-old son was shot in 1994. People not affected by murder don’t realize it is more than just another number, but a wave of a grief that rolls through the community impacting siblings, relatives and friends and a sadness that parents carry with them always.
“It is a life-long sentence for us,” Hampton said.
Violent crime has spiked in many communities across the state and nation.
The Major Cities Chiefs Association, a professional association of chiefs and sheriffs representing the largest cities in the United States and Canada, started collecting information about violent crime and homicides after hearing reports of increases over the summer, said executive director Darrel Stephens.
Of the 53 cities that responded to a September survey, about 40 had seen increases, including Charlotte, where violent crime is up 17.6 percent compared with the first nine months of 2014.
“There hasn’t has been enough time to figure whether this is anomaly in 2015 or something that is beginning to reflect an increase in crime across the country,” Stephens said.
Not all big cities are seeing spikes. Raleigh has had 14 homicides this year, said police spokesman Jim Sughrue. He said the city averages about 20 a year, but in recent years it’s been under that.
Young people with guns
Part of the problem in Durham, Lopez said, is young people with guns.
“I think a lot of it has to do with the proliferation of firearms,” Lopez said. “Too many individuals who shouldn’t have guns are getting a hold of them, and then they are settling their issues or their scores with violence.”
That statement appears to be underscored by at least two of the six recent shootings.
Officers responded to a shooting just after 6 p.m. Nov. 7 on the 300 block of North Hyde Park Avenue, a neighborhood whose residents say they are used to crime. Police found a 14-year-old girl with a gunshot wound on her leg. She was in the front yard visiting a young man whose mother lives at the house, said Don Baines, 33, the teen’s uncle. The nephew, who is about the same age as the girl, told his uncle that before the shooting there had been an exchange and threats following a picture posting on the social media site Instagram, Baines said.
The social media exchange was followed by two young teens pulling up in a gray car, saying something like “What’s popping” and firing about 10 gunshots, Baines said. On Tuesday, Baines pointed out a bullet hole and nicks in the paint on the house where other shots hit.
Lopez said police were told that the shooters got out of the car and had a conversation before the shooting started.
The second incident that involved a youth and guns resulted in the death of Jermaine Bennett, 18, of Durham. Bennett was shot around 7 p.m. Monday at McDougald Terrace public housing complex. Police found Bennett there with a gunshot wound and took him to a local hospital, where he died.
Bennett lived with his mother, Kizzy Boyd, 38, in the complex. Boyd said she was called after the shooting and saw her son being taken to an ambulance on a stretcher.
Boyd said she has heard different accounts of what preceded the shooting, including a conflict at a gathering or a dispute over a cell phone.
“I can’t say,” she said. “I don’t know what happened.”
On Tuesday, a memorial near a fence where Bennett was shot included a dozen white roses, a bottle of tequila, balloons and signs.
Two still boots
In the other two homicides, The Durham News was unable to reach relatives or associates.
On Nov. 8, police found Ricardo DeJesus Uribe Padilla, 25, of Durham with multiple gunshot wounds inside a car on the 1900 block of Lakewood Avenue at 6:51 a.m.
Mark Koyanagi, 50, who lives near where Padilla was found, said his neighborhood is generally pretty quit and doesn’t experience a lot of crime beyond a break-in now and then. Koyanagi said he remembers being asleep that morning and hearing loud music playing from a car in the street. Generally, the music goes away after the stoplight at the nearby intersection changes, but this music played longer and was punctuated with what he thought was a car backfiring.
He woke up about an hour later to a crime scene near his driveway and front yard. He told the police what he heard, and that’s when he saw two still boots beneath the passenger side door and realized Padilla’s body was still in the car.
“I said an unprintable word at that point,” he said.
Around 4:14 a.m. Nov. 7 officers investigating a call in the 4600 block of Hope Valley Road contacted local hospitals and found Santonio Rodriguez Rochelle, 33, of Durham, who had died.
In addition to the three homicides and shooting of the 14-year-old, two people shot each other on Glasson Street over the weekend, Michael said.
The shootings do not appear to be related or random, Lopez said. The one thing that they have in common is that the community isn’t helping, Lopez said.
People didn’t come forward to tell the police about young people with guns before the shootings, and they aren’t coming forward now to share anything they saw or heard.
“And that’s the only way the violence will stop,” Lopez said.
Staff reporter Richard Stradling contributed to this report.
Anyone with information is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 919-683-1200. CrimeStoppers pays cash rewards for information leading to arrests in felony cases and callers never have to identify themselves.