On gun violence in Asheville: In recent news reports on gun violence and the mayor’s proclamation about it, a letter was mentioned by [Asheville City Council member] Vijay Kapoor as being the only one he had received on the murder of Derrick LaQuinn Lee Jr. That letter was written by me and published by Mountain Xpress [“Where is the Outrage for Derrick?” Aug. 8].
Mr. Kapoor also noted that he had raised a $2,000 reward for info on the murderer [of the current $5,000 reward total]. Think about that: only $2,000.
With all the tourist, hotel, real estate, bar and restaurant money flooding this area, only a very small reward was collected, and to be honest, I have seen similar amounts offered for a lost pet. The police commented about how they were getting no help from people in the area. Did anyone ever consider that if someone talked to the Asheville Police Department, their lives would be in danger and they would have to move for safety reasons? Two thousand dollars would not be anywhere enough for that.
I am writing this letter to ask those who are making a lot of money here and others to donate to this reward and also consider helping set up a large reward fund to be used in all serious gun violence cases.
— John Penley
Editor’s note: Community members can call Asheville-Buncombe Crime Stoppers anonymously to offer a tip at 828-255-5050 and still be eligible for a reward, according to its website (avl.mx/5fl). The reward amount for information on the fatal shooting of 12-year-old Derrick LaQuinn Lee Jr. on July 1 in Asheville is currently $5,000.
In a subsequent email, Penley asked how many unsolved homicides there have been in Asheville over the past several years. Xpress contacted Asheville Police Department spokeswoman Christina Hallingse, who provided statistics on homicides encompassing the full calendar years for 2013-17 and year-to-date numbers for 2018. She wrote via email: “There have been a total of 50 homicides during this roughly five-year period. Of the 50, 11 cases remain open and under further investigation. That is a closure rate of 78 percent for homicides, which is higher than the national average. In the FBI’s latest Unified Crime Report [avl.mx/5fq], they list clearance rates for murder/nonnegligent manslaughter in 2017 at 61.6 percent.”