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Our view: Two more tragic deaths

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Two more Winston-Salem teenagers have been killed — shot to death.

One, 19-year-old Marcus Lee Marshall, was taken to Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist about 10:15 p.m. Sunday with a gunshot wound to the head, the Journal’s Michael Hewlett reported Monday.

Retracing his steps, police found the body of 17-year-old Corey Blake Simons in a parking lot, killed by a gunshot to the torso.

Simons was a student at Reagan High School.

“I am deeply saddened to share with you that last night we lost one of our Raiders, Corey Simons,” Reagan Principal Brad Royal said in an email. “As a family, we love and we grieve together. I ask that you please keep Corey’s family in your thoughts and prayers. We will have counselors as well as our district’s crisis support team on site tomorrow. If students need to talk at any time, please encourage them to ask their teachers to allow them to come to student services.”

Family members and friends are left to mourn — and the rest of us are left to fear what may happen next.

“Now it makes me scared,” nearby resident Angela Cooper told the Journal. “I’m terrified now because you never know, after you saw something like that, getting off at 7 it is dark and you never know.”

We don’t know many details at this point. We don’t know the motives for the shootings or even who perpetrated the crimes. We don’t know if drugs or gang activity was involved. We don’t know the roles these young men may have played in their own demise.

Do we need to?

We do know that all over town, all across the state and the country, young people who should be spending their time playing sports or studying for their driver’s licenses or practicing with the garage band that allows them to imagine fame are instead getting embroiled in unwholesome activities and consuming unwholesome substances that lead to death.

We do know that it’s too easy for the wrong people to get their hands on firearms.

We do know that mental health challenges lead too many young people to despair. We do know that not enough resources are being supplied to save them.

And we do know that this is largely because they’re part of the society that we adults built. This is what we’ve handed them, through selfishness and neglect and a willingness to tolerate poverty and politicians who cut educational and cultural resources in the name of low taxes. This is our legacy.

It’s bitter fruit.

Following historic lows, violent crimes began to increase during our COVID lockdown period, as life and livelihoods were thrown into turmoil.

They seem to be decreasing now — compare these, the 25th and 26th homicides in Winston-Salem for 2022, with 33 homicides by the same date in 2021.

But the decrease is too slow with no promise of continuance.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Caring people of good conscience can make a difference. Even if they can’t be involved personally, they can, in various ways, support those who work for change.

The city of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County are splitting the $1 million cost of Cure Violence, a program that uses trained “violence interrupters” to try to stop violent acts before they occur. The counselors talk with people in the community “to find out about ongoing disputes, recent arrests, prison releases and other situations that may lead to trouble,” the Journal’s Wesley Young reported last week. It’s hoped that a more public-health approach will be more effective, especially with people who don’t trust the police.

Latoya Robinson, the executive director of the nonprofit Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods, which will run the program, welcomes volunteers. Visit www.nbncommunity.org for more information.

The program will run for two years. At that point we’d like to see some concrete results.

We appreciate the willingness of our government officials to take steps that we hope will save lives. It’s an important step — but it’s just one. For our benefit, for the benefit of our children, for the benefit of our society, we must find what works and do that.

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