Recent shootings may related to gang rivalries, sheriff says

The Hoke County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Roderick Virgil issued a statement this week in the wake of multiple shootings, saying that the increased violence appears to be because of gang activity.

The agency is working with other law enforcement entities to investigate the crimes and prevent future acts of violence, Virgil’s office said.

“The Sheriff’s Office is acutely aware of the increase of shootings and homicides within the last couple of months. My condolences go out to all of the families involved. The Sheriff’s Office, along with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation and the Raeford Police Department are taking decisive actions to investigate these cases intensively, as well as to prevent others in the future. Most of the violence, that has been reported, is due to gang rivalries,” the statement read.

A flurry of incidents of shots being fired into occupied homes, a man being shot while walking along Doc Brown Road, a shooting that took place Saturday on Rockfish Road and multiple other cases are all among the situations that are under investigation in Hoke County. The city of Raeford’s police department is also currently looking into a fatal shooting that killed 36-year-old Mario Lamar Wilson last Monday, December 5.

The sheriff’s office is stepping up efforts to take targeted action, the agency announced.

“We have made plans for selected enforcement action to target those criminals who are participating in gangs, associated gun violence, drug trafficking and other criminal activities. Deputies will continue to conduct road checks in target areas. We will continue to arrest and charge as detectives investigate. This activity will continue until these gang members and their associates realize we will not tolerate this violence and we will pursue until all are arrested and charged,” the statement said.

The increased violent crimes activity has also impacted Hoke’s neighboring counties including Cumberland County and Moore County in recent months, the sheriff’s office noted.

Authorities asked for citizens to be vigilant, to support local youth to keep them out of gangs, and to reach out to law enforcement with any concerns or information about cases under investigation.

“Our office needs the help of the community by continuing to be proactive. To the community, our youth depends on us, so please help and work with them so they don’t become enticed by gangs. To combat gang violence, the community has to start early, working with youth and getting into community programs to change and or continue to promote positive behavior,” the agency said in the statement this week.

“We also need the community’s help in solving crimes. If you see something, please say something. It is too often that victims will refuse to cooperate with detectives, leaving the Sheriff’s Office with little to no information to work on.”

Anyone with information about local shootings that are under investigation, or any other criminal activity can reach out to the Hoke County Sheriff’s Office at (910) 875-5111.

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