Dover Deals With Late Uptick in Gun Violence as Overall Shooting - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Dover Deals With Late Uptick in Gun Violence as Overall Shootings Increase in 2019

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The Dover Police Department logo. The Dover Police Department logo.

DOVER, Del. - Rita Walls doesn't understand why two people were shot Monday morning roughly a block away from her home on North New Street in Dover -- the third shooting in less than a week in that area.

Even though the gunplay has stayed on the other side of Division Street, Walls is worried about someone getting killed in her neighborhood.

"People don't have no respect for life any more. It's just sad, you've got people running around and shooting people," she said.

The early morning gunfire on South New Street marks the latest episode of an uptick in city gun violence to close out 2019, a year in which Dover police believe more shootings occurred than the week prior.

The victims in the most recent case were approached by five to six other men while they were on a porch of a home. Both of the men who were shot received treatment at Bayhealth Kent General.

Cpl. Mark Hoffman, a Dover Police Department spokesman, said witnesses gave little information on possible suspects---an issue frequently seen in other bouts of gun violence this year.

"That makes our jobs incredibly difficult," he said.

Prior to Monday's shooting, Dover police said officers last week responded to two homes struck by gunfire in the area of South New Street.

The first incident happened on Christmas Eve and police said bullets hit a home some time prior to 7:40 p.m. in the unit block of South New Street near the intersection of Reed Street. No one was hurt.

Days later, on Dec. 27, police said another home on the unit block of South New Street was hit by gunfire. No injuries were reported in this case, either.

New Street was not the only place last week to see bullets fly---Dover police also said the Rite Aid along Webbs Lane near the city limits was hit by gunfire after a confrontation between a 19-year-old man and a group of people inside a van.

Hoffman on Monday did not have an estimate on how many shootings or people were shot in the city this year but noted that city police have also maintained a high clearance rate in solving those cases.

"That's not to say we don't need the public's help. In these most recent incidents we have little to no description of the suspects," he said.

Downtown Shootings Prompt Concern

Each of the recent New Street shootings took place within blocks of Loockerman Street, the city's main downtown commercial corridor.

Dover Mayor Christiansen said the incidents were particularly concerning because crime in that area could derail efforts by groups like Habitat for Humanity to build new homes and stabilize the downtown residential area with increased homeownership.

Christiansen said incidents, not unlike the New Street shootings or an April shooting at a Loockerman Street men's salon, could potentially result in a bystander or visitor to the downtown area being hit by gunfire.

"My big fear is that there's going to be collateral damage in one of these shootings. So far, we've lucked out," he said.

Public safety has been an issue raised by downtown merchants in recent months. Members of the Downtown Dover Partnership sent a letter to city hall encouraging efforts to bring more police patrols and personnel to places like Loockerman Street to cut down on nuisance crimes or other illegal behavior.

After that letter, Christiansen said the city would try to direct more police personnel there—an effort aided by using a private security firm to patrol the Dover Public Library, thereby freeing police cadets to stalk the streets of downtown Dover.

Shots Fired Outside City Limits, Too

A pair of shootings last week also rocked the Capital Park community, located just outside the Dover city limits.

Delaware State Police said a woman was shot about 9:12 p.m. on Dec. 27 while sitting in her car parked outside of a home on the 200 block of Governors Boulevard. She was taken to the hospital for treatment.

The following evening, state troopers responded to Capital Park again for another shooting. Police said shots rang out while a man walked to his car parked on State Circle.

Although the man was not struck by the shooter, state police said a vehicle and home were hit by bullets.

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