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Sister of slain Durham man seeks transparency on gun violence fight

DURHAM, NC (WNCN) — Brandi Johnson gazes at her younger brother Joshua Johnson’s kitchen wall photos.

She remembers how much fun they had as children.

“When we were young, we would turn on our radio and dance in the living room and have a good time,” Johnson said.

Johnson said her brother Joshua is a very kind, loving person.

“He was very purposeful. He got his life in order and stayed out of trouble,” Johnson said.

But on the morning of November 8, 2021, she said her mother was having a hard time getting a hold of him on the phone.

“I hadn’t heard from him and I knew something was terribly wrong,” Johnson said.

Later that day, his car was abandoned and his body was found in the trunk. Police said he was shot multiple times. According to the police, there have been no arrests in his case so far.

“It almost felt like someone had my heart ripped out of my chest,” Johnson said. “The pain it left my family with is irreversible. We still have to do a little bit more.”

Deadly shootings in Durham again this year. So far this year, seven people have been shot and killed, compared to the five people shot this time last year.

In 2021, the city set a record 50 homicides, a 35 percent increase in homicides since 2020.

As killings spike in Durham, Johnson is urging the city to be more proactive in addressing gun violence.

“Obviously we can’t necessarily be in those places when some of these things are happening, but I feel like we can do things like bring back the gun buyback program,” Johnson said.

Many years ago, Durham had a gun buyback program where people could sell their firearms back to the authorities.

“We pulled some working guns off the street,” said Mike Andrews, a former Durham County sheriff.

While Andrews said he supports any effort to get guns off the streets, he said most of the guns being sold back are not operational.

“Some of the guns were broken and some of the internal parts of the firearms had been removed,” Andrews said.

Andrews said if authorities want to get the guns out of the hands of criminals, one way to do that is through more proactive policing that includes traffic stops and better visibility in certain areas.

“This would allow them to not only get guns off the streets, but drugs off the streets,” Andrews said.

Johnson said she would also like Mayor Elaine O’Neal to speak more openly about what is being done about gun violence.

As CBS 17 previously reported, O’Neal said during a city council meeting last monththat she would not speak to the media about her efforts to combat gun violence.

She told the council she was concerned if she spoke publicly about her work to combat gun violence it would jeopardize the “fragile” relationships she is forging with people in the community who do not trust the government.

But Johnson said she would like the mayor to at least speak to families affected by gun violence.

“It’s very frustrating that we can’t have an open dialogue about something that’s supposed to be the same common goal for all of us,” Johnson said. “I hope at some point she will be willing to speak to the families behind the scenes, we just want to be heard because we are the ones who have to suffer.”

Johnson has contacted the mayor’s office twice about her concerns, but she has not heard from her.

CBS 17 has reached out to O’Neal’s office for comment on Johnson’s concerns, but we’re also still awaiting a response.

https://www.cbs17.com/news/local-news/durham-county-news/sister-of-slain-durham-man-seeks-transparency-in-efforts-to-fight-gun-violence/ Sister of slain Durham man seeks transparency on gun violence fight

DUSTIN JONES

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