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Citizen group aims to combat crime in Edenton
Group hopes to host community clean-ups, gardens

A newly formed group aims to help combat crime in Edenton through community activities that encourage citizens to know their neighbors.

Know Your Neighbor met Monday at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church to organize and discuss how to reduce the town’s crime.

Edenton Police Chief Henry King noted that the town has had what some considered gangs for decades, but more recently learned that they are nationally known gangs with long-running feuds.

“They were referred to as East and West, as in if you lived past this certain street, you’d be in the West gang and if you lived on the other side of the street you’d be in the East gang,” King said. “More recently, we’ve learned that these gangs are just the Blood and the Crips.”

Gang members tend to travel along the US 17 corridor, committing crimes in Edenton, Hertford and Elizabeth City.

“These people will do something in Edenton, travel to Hertford. They’ll do something there and then go up to Elizabeth City,” King said. “Then they come back to Edenton and start doing it again.”

These gangs often use YouTube to share rap videos about their crimes and the consequences of telling the police, King said. He noted groups of five or six people will gather near abandoned houses or empty lots, film a few minutes of video and then drive to another location in town to film another part. The music is then dubbed over the footage.

He said the videos often include people with guns and doing illegal substances.

“You have to be very specific when you search on YouTube for these videos,” King said. “You often have to search for something like a specific street name.”

The public can help reduce local crime by reporting any activities that are out of the ordinary, King said. Parents can watch for unusual behavior in their children, or things such as wearing items of clothing in a different way or new behaviors.

“Parents usually have, like a spider sense, when it comes to their kids,” King said. “They can feel that something is off with their kid; although they may not know what it exactly is.”

Among the keys in helping curb gun violence, is communication. This involves communication between the police and the citizens, family members and criminals, and various organizations working to better youths’ lives.

He noted a new program the police department is offering for people who they identify in the YouTube gang-related rap videos. The agency sends them a letter encouraging them to turn their life around or be arrested and charged with a crime.

He also encouraged businesses to get surveillance cameras that point outward, toward the parking lot or street.

He noted the April 8, 2020, case in which shots were fired at a pickup truck and the driver of the truck returning fire at the ABC Liquor Store on North Broad Street. Five people were arrested and charged in connection with the case with the help of store surveillance footage. There were several witnesses inside the store, but when questioned, they refused to talk, King said.

“On the indoor camera footage, you could see customers go up to the store window, press their faces to the glass and look outside. They could see what was happening,” King said. “One of the witnesses denied he was there so much so that when we pointed out that we had a credit card receipt with his name on it for two bottles of Hennessey, he said that someone else bought the alcohol and used his card.”

King noted many crimes are like that, where there are many people around who claim not to have seen anything.

EPD has an anonymous tip line, 252-632-0303. King noted that tips, in conjunction with other evidence, are used to build cases.

He mentioned that residents should call law enforcement about anything that seems out of the ordinary. They’d rather respond to a call, investigate and find nothing, rather than have something bad happen that could have been prevented.

This upcoming fiscal year, which starts July 1, the Town of Edenton has included a budget item for EPD to purchase a system that will help better track shootings.

The program, which a one-time cost of about $150,000, alerts EPD to shots-fired incidents. When installed, EPD will be able to accurately locate such incidents, as well as determine where the shooter was and their direction of travel. King noted that the system will automatically turn city-owned cameras to where the shooter is, in an effort to capture any identifying features or a getaway vehicle.

Also while discussing technology, King asked residents to find out whether their home security system has any cameras that point to the street He asked that those willing to do so to either create a user ID police can access or let the police know it’s there. If a crime occurs in a neighborhood, EPD can either log-in to watch your camera footage through their User ID or call to get your permission to watch the footage.

An example of this would be if a crime takes place on a street in your neighborhood, EPD could note that your cameras operate near the crime scene and possibly find out what kind of car was used as a getaway vehicle.

King said they plan to put this program in three areas in town totaling about a 1-mile radius. Those areas include part of Oakum Street, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue and Tyler Run.

Another tool that EPD uses in a national ballistics database, NIBIN. King noted that each time a bullet is fired, the gun’s barrel leaves a “fingerprint” on the shell or casing that is unique to that particular gun. The database can show whether a particular gun has been used in other crimes.

In the case of the ABC Liquor Store shooting, EPD used the database and learned that one of the guns used in that incident was used in several other crimes. When one of the suspects was caught, EPD was able to add more charges in connection to those other crimes. The suspect’s case was moved to federal court.

Know You Neighbor hopes to help the police by reintroducing neighbors to each other through community service activities, such as neighborhood clean-ups. They also hope to get groups of people to tour town and note any abandoned houses or empty lot.

They hope to bring this list of properties to town officials and work with them to create community gardens in empty lots and get the property owners to take care of their empty houses.

The group hopes to host meetings through Edenton, at different churches and centers within the community.

“We would like to open this up to the whole community to not only voice your concerns, but to hear your ideas for improvement, and volunteer to participate in initiatives,” the group’s flyer read. “Our goal is to bring pride back into our streets and build a stronger and safer community.”

You can submit ideas or get more information by emailing 252neighbors@gmail.com .

Elder Abuse Walk

Chowan Senior Center, located in the E.A. Swain Auditorium’s basement, held an Elder Abuse Awareness Walk Tuesday. Participants were encouraged to walk 30 minutes and wear purple to show support of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

centerpiece featured
Tyner native's vehicle featured on website

A Tyner native’s passion for customized vehicles was recently recognized on autoevolution.com, a website and YouTube channel that focuses on the latest automotive news.

Vance “Shocka” Wright graduated from John A. Holmes High School in 2001. After a stint in the US Army, he was medically retired. He now lives near Fort Knox, Kentucky.

The vehicle on the website features LED lights along the bottom that change colors. The body is wrapped in a skin depicting “The Transformers,” fictional robot characters from TV and movies from the planet Cyberton, which also has a spot on the wrap. Throughout the vehicle’s design, you can see the logos of the evil Decepticons and good Autobots. The group’s leaders, Megatron and Optimus Prime, battle on the driver’s side.

Wright said he bought the Dodge Charger Scat Pack in 2017. He also started a car club, MOPAR SAVAGE car club, in Kentucky. His vehicles have won several awards at car shows in his area.

“I wanted a family oriented group similar to what I had in the Army, so I started my own car club here in Kentucky,” he said. “We primarily link up, have a good time and travel together to car shows. Recently I started the club in Raleigh, North Carolina ,and I have Ashley Chislom as the president.”

Wright said he has always had a love of cars because of his grandfather, brother and cousins.

You can find more about Wright’s passion for cars on Instagram and YouTube under the username Shocka252 .

“I use ‘252’ to pay homage to my hometown of Tyner/Edenton,” he said.

You can find the feature on Wright’s car at https://bit.ly/2TBpgSx .

news Briefs: Governor announces cash drawings to encourage COVID-19 vaccinations

Cash drawings encourage COVID-19 vaccinations

RALEIGH — As part of North Carolina’s effort to encourage more North Carolinians to receive COVID-19 vaccines, Governor Roy Cooper announced $4 Million Summer Cash and College Tuition drawings to motivate those who have not yet been vaccinated — and thank those who have. Four vaccinated North Carolinians 18 and older will win $1 million each and four North Carolinians ages 12 to 17 will win tuition for post-secondary education. Executive Order 219, which has concurrence from the North Carolina Council of State, authorizes the drawings.

North Carolinians 18 and over who have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine will be automatically entered into four drawings for a chance to win a $1 million cash prize. Youth between the ages of 12 and 17 who have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine will be automatically entered into four drawings to win $125,000 toward post-secondary education. The $125,000 can be used at any post-secondary institution and is awarded in the form of a NC 529 account.

The $4 Million Summer Cash and Summer Cash 4 College Drawings will run from June 23 through Aug. 4.

Learn more about the $4 Million Summer Cash and Summer Cash 4 College Drawings at SummerVaxCash.com. For information about COVID-19 vaccines and the state’s Bringing Summer Back initiative, visit YourSpotYourShot.nc.gov or dial 1-888-675-4567.

Mask mandate for risky settings kept through July 30

RALEIGH — North Carolinians in airports, buses and train stations will need to remain masked at all times until at least July 30 under a new executive order issued on Friday.

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper extended the state of emergency, which the state has been under since March 2020. While COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths have plummeted as more people have gotten vaccinated, the governor said residents must remain safe and that his directive will help the state turn the corner on the pandemic.

Cooper also moved to extend his mask wearing requirement at schools and health care settings.

“This is no time to hang up a ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner in our fight against the pandemic,” Cooper said in a news release. “We are laser focused on getting more shots in arms, boosting our economy and protecting unvaccinated people from the virus and this executive order is essential for those efforts.”

While the governor extended many of the provisions of an existing directive that had been set to expire at 5 p.m. Friday, June 11, the statewide eviction moratorium remains set to expire at the end of June.

Historic Commission seeks photographs

Edenton Historical Commission is part of a project seeking to digitize photos of Edenton and Chowan County from 1800-1939.

The scanned photos will not only be preserved in a digital archive, but might also be included in an upcoming book about the region.

If you have photos from the area from 1800-1939 (including family photos) that you would like to include in the project, please message the Penelope Barker House Welcome Center for information and to set up a scanning appointment.

The center can be reached via phone at 252-482-7800.

Edenton Juneteenth Festival set for June 19 at Colonial Park

Edenton Juneteenth Festival will celebrate Black life on Saturday, June 19.

The event, scheduled to be held from 3 to 7:30 p.m. at Colonial Park, Edenton, is a commemoration for freedom of enslaved Africans and their descendants of Galveston, Texas, not informed of their emancipation nor granted freedom until two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

“While we acknowledge the suffering of Black Plight we Celebrate Black Victories and Triumphs,” the Facebook event says.

The event will feature music from the Michael Brown Trio. Brown is an Edenton native and saxophonist and music composer.

Artist Keith McClease’s work will also be featured at the Juneteenth celebration. He is also an Edenton native who graduated from John A. Holmes High School. He studied graphic design, commercial art and illustration at Elizabeth City State University. His life lead him to careers in the US Army, and making music. He continues to be artistically inspired, and currently expresses himself through painting, photography and video editing.

The festival also will feature a 3-point basketball shootout. The co-ed event is for all ages and will feature a cash prize. To register, visit fromdeep.com or text 252-340-1327 with the participant’s name and age.

Also during the celebration, Shepard-Pruden Memorial Library will host an event from noon to 3 p.m. in the library’s patios.

Artists and authors will participate in a celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation.