BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — “Put the guns down. That’s the number one thing. Put the guns down,” said Tauvea Davis at the vigil for his childhood friend, Dwayne Richardson.
Two shootings in one weekend, leave the Beckley community concerned.
“Right now, I feel like there is something going on,” said Christyana Jones, a Beckley resident.
One of those shootings took the life of a Woodrow Wilson High School Junior. Beckley Residents said they worry about violence increasing in their hometown.
“People are willing to take away what you love and things can be taken away from you just like that,” said Jones.
However, police said the community shouldn’t be concerned for their safety. Lt. Dave Allard with the Beckley Police Department, said every shooting is tragic. He said it only feels like shootings have increased lately, because of the short span of time they have occurred in.
“When you have high profile shootings like this one, you know the death of a child or a young man, it’s alarming. But you can’t really take a short snip it of time, and look at it. You really need to look at it year to date, month to month, and compare that to see if crime is up and crime is down,” Allard said.
Allard said compared to this time last year, there was only one more shooting. And crime in general, is actually down.
“There’s been years where it was far worse than this,” Allard explained.
Allard also said the circumstances of these two incidents are important. One was an accidental shooting, while the other was the end result of a physical fight between people.
“Most of these are targeted, one person targeting another person,” Allard said.
Police said the majority of shootings that take place in Beckley, the gun used is often illegal. Investigators add the suspects of these shootings are usually prohibited to carry a gun. Or, the guns that are used are obtained illegally.
Lt. Jason McDaniel with the Beckley Police Department, said people steal guns, or have someone legally allowed to carry, buy them a gun.
“A majority of stolen guns that are out here, end up in criminal’s hands. They were stolen by a criminal and they are transferred to a criminal,” McDaniel said.
McDaniel said this crime is often hard to identify, and prove. It is also legal to privately sell a gun in West Virginia. This means sometimes citizens sell their guns to felons, unknowingly.