Letter: There’s still plenty of crime in Asheville

Graphic by Lori Deaton

While researching, I realized the high crimes in Asheville actually don’t appear to be decreasing. The homicide rate, although down from the previous year, isn’t being acknowledged lower thanks to police efforts as the first people on the scenes to assist in lifesaving techniques to many gunshot victims!

What I noted was far more shooting incidents and victims who survived due to quick responses by the Police Department.

A North Carolina new law now allows prosecution of the drug dealers who sell the poisons that kill victims in North Carolina. Infant fentanyl deaths are also making the news, as well as a new tranquilizer drug, xylazine. This new drug causes necrotic tissue in its drug user victims. Reports of drug users of xylazine have to get amputations after using the deadly drug.

Here are just a few news items about crime in the Asheville area.

On Dec. 20, one injured victim was discovered by police injured by gunshots in the arm. Officers applied lifesaving techniques to save the man’s life before EMS arrived and took the man to the hospital, where he was attended to, then later released.

Witnesses reported the gunfire came from outside the residence of the victim, reported on Myrtle Street. The shooting was not a few bullets, but a reported total of 55 shell casings recovered at the scene of the crime.

Vehicles totaling four were also damaged by the bullet fire. It’s miraculous with the amounts of shots fired there was only one injury.

Days later, a double homicide happened in Asheville on Dec. 23. This is reported as 2023’s seventh and eighth homicides in Asheville.

The incident was reported to have occurred in the New Leicester Highway 300 block at 11:30 p.m. The police were called in by a report of a man shot and arrived to find a male deceased inside a business. The identity of one homicide victim was released as Chase Christian VanLeeuwen. Police are again urging anyone with information to call their tip line.

The second homicide victim of the New Leicester Highway shooting was revealed to be Marckia Ornette Jones.

On Christmas Eve, a man was shot at a gas station in Asheville. Witnesses interviewed reported multiple gunshots around 9:20 p.m. at the location of 414 Depot St. that is the gas station Green’s Mini Mart. When police arrived, they found that the man had been shot several times. Police provided lifesaving techniques until the EMS arrived.

Regarding local fentanyl deaths, an infant fentanyl death happened Sept. 22, 2022, and a year later, the mother has been reported arrested and charged with manslaughter. Fentanyl was a contributor to the infant’s death of toxicity, along with blunt-force trauma.

These incidents are just a few of many, which also include fentanyl distribution, overdose deaths, murders, multiple car break-ins, and bomb threats at a local synagogue. All of the above shows me there’s plenty of crime going on in Asheville, and in certain crime criteria, it’s escalating.

I want to thank the Asheville Police Department that responds to these incidents, despite their history of lack of funding, lack of community support and lack of more than enough staff.

— Kristen Burns-Warren
Canton

Editor’s note: This letter has been updated from the print version.

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20 thoughts on “Letter: There’s still plenty of crime in Asheville

  1. Elle

    Property crimes in Asheville are certainly not decreasing; they just aren’t being reported. Several years ago, APD made it known that they would not respond to shoplifting and other thefts if the item stolen was valued at less than $1000. There may be an exception if the victim can name the perpetrator. This city/APD policy has insured that retail shoplifting largely goes unreported, and that people who steal items valued at less than $1000 will not face any consequences. Since this APD policy was announced, the Ingles at 29 Tunnel Rd. increasingly has become a hotbed for shoplifting. Nearly every time I go there, I see someone with a case of beer, wine, or food walk out of the store without paying. I’ve mentioned this to employees and they say there’s little they can do; APD doesn’t respond anymore. The costs of theft are passed on to paying customers., but I wonder how long this will go on before the store is forced to close. When people are allowed to openly commit shoplifting and other property crimes with little to no fear of being held accountable, this may embolden them to go on commit other crimes.

    • Kristen Burns-Warren

      Elle,
      These are great points s on shoplifting thefts going on at Ingles you keep seeing. I know of many other retail stores that employees complain of the exact same thing. A while back a retail store made the news that was journaling all the crimes to send to corporate in the hopes of hiring a private security guard. I imagine a big possibility is that yes eventually the store may close as that’s not a safe work place environment nor safe customer shopping environment for people to be around that kind of crime and it’s according to what you described in repeated losses so great point you made on costs yes then go to the honest few consumer buyers. I think more security presence be it private security guards of more public police presence, cameras, signs we prosecute shoplifting and more two way dialogue to local authorities or two way dialogue with the companies top executives on what they plan to implement on safety is the only thing I found that might deter the crimes.

      I found some stories of local businesses with similar shoplifting and more crime complaints.

      https://www.foxnews.com/us/workers-democrat-run-north-carolina-tourist-city-bemoan-downtown-decline-really-disturbing

      https://mountainx.com/news/from-asheville-watchdog-merchants-describe-downtown-ashevilles-descent-into-squalor-and-lawlessness/

      Sincerely,
      Kristen Burns-Warren

  2. Mike Rains

    Excellent article with good insights.

    All across the country, law enforcement has touted the large decline in the murder rate from decades past. What they don’t discuss if one of the most signficant factors leading to this: the now ubiqutous cell phone. In the not to distant past, someone shot would bleed out and die because of the delay in getting help with less phone access. Today, a shooting incident is one quick phone call away for quick, lifesaving medical support.

    There is another factor to be sure: Robust and rapid emergency medical services (EMTs) everywhere across the country as well as hospital trauma centers together provide emergency critical care that did not exist at that level in the past.

    So while the murder rate is down substantially from past, gun violence has risen. Anything less then murder gets categorized under “Aggravated Assaults” which is also subdivided by type: Firearm, Knife or Other Cutting Instrument, Other Dangerous Implement, Hands, Fist, Feet.

    For the state of NC, over half of all aggravated assaults now involve a firearm.

    There are huge societal costs to this carnage. Who pays for all of this critical emergency room care? And afterwards, the rehabilitation and life changes?

    The tolerance of gun violence/any gun violence in this country is difficult to fathom. Sentences for the slightest case of aggravated assualt with a gun should be very stiff. First offenders should go to jail for a minimum of 5 years. More depending on circumstances. Only through this type of sentencing will society turn this around.

  3. Lou

    History of lack of funding? Yeah no that’s not why we are lacking police presence in Asheville. There was a backlash during COVID because more people witnessed police brutality than ever before, usually directed at black and brown people and and a lot of civil servants had a problem with wearing a mask, let alone a collar camera. Police in Asheville make nearly $50,000 annually when they start and they aren’t even required to have a college degree, the captain makes nearly $110,000. Given all that, we all know that many enter into the field for reasons that have nothing to do with community service and everything to do with their own ego. Funny, the only people thanking cops are the wealthy white folk who could shoot someone in the middle of the street and get away with it. Give me a break.

    • Mike Rains

      Lou,
      Your comments reflect a deep negative feeling towards police. I would like to know more about your experience(s) that formed those strong feelings, if you’re so inclined.

      To be honest, I guess some could consider me a “wealthy white folk”; although I don’t consider myself wealthy (but then again wealth is a relative judgement). But I’m sincerely interested in a greater understanding on your deep feelings against police.

    • Kristen Burns-Warren

      Lou,
      I disagree with your statement on “Asheville Police enter the field for reasons that have nothing to do with community service and everything to do with their own ego. “

      Can you give some reasons?
      You failed to even get facts on what you based this derogatory statement on as if you have interviewed the entire police department and can speak for their “ egos” and police according to you do zero community service. I think I can add a few community services they do.

      How many police left the force? Well the NY times reported Asheville –

      “Why Police Have Been Quitting in Droves in the Last Year
      Asheville, N.C., has been among the hardest hit by police departures in the wake of last year’s George Floyd protests. About a third of the force quit or retired.”

      An officer described her ordeal in Asheville on the job.

      ASHEVILLE, N.C. — As protests surged across the country last year over the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police, Officer Lindsay C. Rose in Asheville, N.C., found her world capsized.
      Various friends and relatives had stopped speaking to her because she was a cop. During a protest in June around Police Headquarters, a demonstrator lobbed an explosive charge that set her pants on fire and scorched her legs.
      She said she was spit on. She was belittled. Members of the city’s gay community, an inclusive clan that had welcomed her in when she first settled in Asheville, stood near her at one event and chanted, “All gay cops are traitors,” she said.

      For rest of that NY York Times article see link below.

      https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/24/us/police-resignations-protests-asheville.html

      Defunding the Asheville Police

      September 23,2020

      Charlotte Observer headline

      NORTH CAROLINA
      This North Carolina city just voted to slash $770,000 from police department budget

      The Asheville city council on Tuesday voted 5-2 to remove thousands in funding from the local police force and put the money toward other city departments, according to footage from a meeting.

      I’m this article it explains that the $700k designated for the Asheville police didn’t go to the Asheville police but instead went to –

      Animal and noise complaints, not explained but listed as community engagement programs, not explained other names departments as those departments not listed to help the homeless but then added some of this funding but doesn’t say how much either went to what’s called “ transparency “ of safety and technology but doesn’t show transparency either on what the departments were nor amounts that got what exactly.

      https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/state/north-carolina/article245941850.html

      Fox News quotes on pay and what they must complete to obtain certification but what’s left is what do Asheville police officers have to do in their jobs for their pay? Their jobs entail great risks that individuals that speak negatively of them do not mention. They perform dangerous life saving techniques and upon victims of so many crimes before arrival so let me list some. The police deal with individuals that are victims of drug afflictions, many serious medical maladies that can spread via blood born pathogens, victims domestic violence, victims of mental issues needing but not necessarily getting the help they need, homeless and call in’s to homeless camps of such varied serous crimes as kidnapping, rape, domestic violence to the unsanitary conditions of risks to just check that a person has no weapon to injure themselves or others such as needles, knives, razor blades, box cutters, guns etc… Police often as first responders are the rescuers for people and factually save many lives as well as many lose their lives on the job.

      http://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/local/2014/05/06/state-honors-fallen-officers-asheville-ceremony/8777523/

      August 2022 Officers shot in the line of duty

      From 2017 up to 2022 this article reports 71 NC law enforcement officers were injured and nine killed in the line of duty.

      2020-2021 reported an increase in the number of law enforcement injured in the line of duty compared to previous years.

      • HendoHendo

        The point of moving that $700k in 2020 from the police budget to the budgets of things like animal enforcement, noise complaints, and community engagement (responding to calls where people need medical and mental health support, not police help) was to staff up those departments to take on those calls. That freed up our reduced police staff to do more important police work like violent crimes and the like. We don’t need officers responding to barking dogs and loud parties. The police budget for 2020/2021 was still 29 million. That’s not “defunded” so let’s please stop saying that.

        I do think police officers deserve to make more, especially if we hope to attract and retain quality officers, and given the high cost of living here. I’d like to see that prioritized in future budgets.

        • Robert

          Asheville doesn’t enforce the lame ill-conceived noise ordinance and so should reallocate to the police, or simply give that money to me on school nights when my godson can’t get to sleep because of Salvage Station.

          1
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          • Kristen Burns-Warren

            Robert,
            So you are saying you see no evidence of the noise ordinance enforced right? Well that confused me reading that specific department does get funding to address. I agree with both of your theories of what to do with parts of that funding. If it’s clearly by you not being used then dole it back to the community makes sense or try straight to the police to handle and see how it goes. I agree school nights for kids is important they get to sleep soundly as you mentioned as should the caregivers.

            Sincerely,
            Kristen Burns-Warren

          • Enlightened Enigma

            Just remember all those music fans paid big money to be at the Salvage Station having fun while you stuck at home with baby…the music stops by 10 or 11pm outside.

        • Kristen Burns-Warren

          Hendo Hendo

          Defunding of Asheville police happened and folks should know that fact.

          I listed here also more reports on the defunding of Asheville police so maybe instead of you telling me to stop saying Asheville police were defunded , you might want to read the news reports out there. Asheville police de-funding did happen and the following year was no raises. Here is an excerpt-

          “The proposed budget reiterates city officials’ reimagining of public safety, a pivot last year from defunding the police, as some advocates demanded during the 2020 summer’s racial justice protests.

          The part missed was their less police force staff thus less budget in payroll as at this time 70 VACANCIES so that left 2.3 million budget unused.

          “There are 70 vacant police officer positions, according to McDowell, leaving about $2.3 million of APD’s current budget unused. The 2022 fiscal year budget proposes using $1.6 million of that $2.3 million to pay, partially, for salary increases for current officers.”

          This article also mentions police along with the “ defunding “ are under paid here –

          Asheville ‘defund police’ vote:City reallocates $770,000 from APD budget
          The city recently contracted with a pay consultant, The Archer Company, which analyzed the city’s salary data and concluded that city employees, including police officers, were being underpaid. The city’s total budget includes plans to spend $7.9 million to bring employees up to the pay recommended in the study. 

          Breakdown on rest of the money.

          “Some of the $1.6 million would also be used to pay for overtime incurred by officers working extra because of the department’s staffing crisis. In the past year and a half, 102 people have left the department, 94% of whom resigned.

          https://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/2021/06/01/asheville-proposed-police-budget-2022-has-key-changes-money-stays-30-million/7440090002/

          Here it shows when there was a three percent decrease in Asheville police funding 2020. That’s is also called and known as “de-funding.”

          “ASHEVILLE – City Council has approved a $29.3 million police budget, representing a 3% decrease that is unlikely to satisfy activists who have called for slashing the department’s funding in half.”

          https://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/local/2020/09/22/defunding-police-asheville-cuts-department-budget-3/5865674002/

          Mountainx explored ideas to fund the Asheville police department in this article to no avail-

          Can the TDA help fund more cops?
          “Some locals have called for the police department to receive money collected on the bed tax by the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority, which currently, as dictated by state law, devotes two-thirds of its funds to marketing efforts and one-third to the Tourism Product Development Fund, which awards grants to permanent projects ranging from baseball fields to local theaters.”

          “New legislation passed last year readjusted the TDA formula, reducing the marketing allocation and bumping up the allowable spending on tourism products, but it does not allow for funding police. Isley stressed that the “lodging tax isn’t a panacea.”
          “It’s not going to fix every issue we have as a community, and we cannot fund operations,” she said.
          For example, the Tourism Authority could fund such capital projects as larger and better trash cans downtown, but it can’t fund the employees who would empty them. Similarly, Isley said, the TDA cannot fund police officer.”

          https://mountainx.com/news/from-asheville-watchdog-down-40-in-numbers-asheville-police-are-overstretched/

          February 2023 Asheville City council meeting news quotes-

          During the public comment session, the majority of the speakers had the same concern — the need to support the Asheville Police Department.
          Many residents were fired up as one asked council members why they have refused to protect the residents of Asheville.
          They said there needs to be more money going to the police department and raises for officers.
          Community member Tom Tesser said he and many others have begged the city council to take action to make Asheville safer. Tesser said there are only 143 officers available for patrol, but there should be at least 200.
          “What a difference that would make on our streets to have that many more officers and patrol cars showing a presence,” he said.

          Asheville resident David Rogers urged the council to fund the police because if they don’t the city isn’t going to have good police officers.

          “We want our police to be fully funded and to come when we call them,” he said.

          https://wlos.com/news/local/police-department-needs-to-be-focus-of-budget-asheville-residents-tell-city-council

          This was May 2023 news stating the Asheville police funding deemed still not enough. This would be pleas to “upfund.”

          “The Asheville Coalition for Public Safety was back before the city council on Tuesday evening, rallying for better pay for Asheville police officers.” This is called a plea to upfund the police and used comparisons in pay that officers in Charlotte get.

          https://wlos.com/news/local/proposed-5-6-pay-increase-isnt-enough-for-asheville-police-community-group-says-asheville-coalition-for-public-safety

          I am glad Hendo Hendo you do feel the police deserve to make more , and I agree!

          Sincerely,
          Kristen Burns-Warren

        • Kristen Burns-Warren

          Why couldn’t that money have gone towards such things as example better police training? The budget for Asheville police was way less due to less staff period so why not use that money plus the 700k or without it using the now lower payroll budget? The 700 k that was specific “ allocated for the police” so why not use for better training as most of the staff were highly experienced that took early retirement or simply left?

          Sincerely,
          Kristen Burns-Warren

        • indy499

          Odd interpretation when the APD and city simultaneously announced items they wouldn’t call on anymore.

          • Kristen Burns-Warren

            Wow I thought I remembered you Indy499!! You claimed and got published your comment on my the border crisis affects us all article that to you wrote according to you I was undoubtedly a global elitist!!

            indy499
            2 years ago
            I’m not impressed with your argument. Far more people want to be in this country than we can accomodate without completely destroying the lives of our lower income citizens. You are undoubtedly an elite globalist feigning to be a concerned humanist.

            https://mountainx.com/opinion/letter-our-border-crisis-affects-us-locally/

            Oh now I remember you Indy499! So are you trolling me again?

            Sincerely,
            Kristen Burns-Warren

          • Kristen Burns-Warren

            Hello again Indy 499 !

            So two years ago you didn’t reply to my reply back to your two years ago defamation so will you now on this?

            Here is what I wrote you back, Indy 499 when you publicly wrote to mountain x two years on my border crisis affects us all locally and got approval on that reply to claim publicly to you- “that I am undoubtedly a global elitist!”

            Here was my reply to you.

            Indy499 persona feels I am probably a global elitist which wow suddenly I am depicted as possibly having the power to influence the government even global governments, to control if not sway the top lucrative businesses and not locally but globally and interconnected supposedly to not just millionaires and billionaires but able to deeply sway impact in large societal markets…

            If living off grid in a 12×12 two adults plus two dogs, two cats and one box turtle for a year, using compost bucket toilet, rain barrel gravity fed shower stall outdoors, chopping your own heat up and stacking it tall, cooking off a camp stove, growing our own food non gmo, planting seedlings, tending to our chickens, fiber Cashmere goats and ducks to you I am probably a global elitist then so be it in your mind but I disagree.

            What is the criteria you use that I am so quickly judged suddenly a probable elitist?

            This letter I wrote was about Our Border Crisis affecting us all not about me but a we as in the first sentence. Forget about me please!!!!

            I really can’t understand nor am willing to sit back silently when folks make ASSumptions and derogatory personal stereotypes about myself to try focus away from the subjects plural.

            If you don’t care Indy499 persons of a subject I wrote realize nobody forced you to read it nor forced you to agree but when folks feel they can at whim have their folly attempting to degrade me and actually call me out as possible “global elitist” I will speak up with zero excuses, zero apologies and zero regrets so go ahead and try to water me down so you can swallow but at the end of the day I am 100 percent proof me not whatever you think I am or want me to be!

            It’s obvious I am on the chopping block for writing my opinion about immigration but I am grateful for Mountainx and seeing the amount of reads on these topics as it isn’t about me solo at all.

            I hope others don’t fall for misguided distractions, bullying or personal derogatory fabrications. I hope for more changes for the better for us all.

            Sincerely,
            Kristen Burns-Warren

            I do hope to see a reply this year at least.

  4. Carl Mumpower

    Thank you for this thoughtful and well shared article on Asheville’s public safety reality.

    • Kristen Burns-Warren

      Thank you for the thank you and please pass that thank you on to law enforcement please!

      Thank you for being concerned and for taking the time to read and acknowledge” Asheville public safety reality” Carl Mumpower.

      Sincerely,
      Kristen Burns-Warren

  5. Kristen Burns-Warren

    Enlightened enigma.

    I noticed you assumed there was a baby and it wasn’t said a baby by Robert but his his son so even your point was pointless. You use enlightened enigma as your icon but gave no enlightened solution and I think there might be a few.

    How much are for example -up-cycling and utilizing sound barriers upon walls? What can acoustic barriers be made of as don’t they block sound as well as by using acoustic barriers minimizing also tremors that can cause cracks in home foundations that loud musical instruments can make?

    I found solutions-

    https://notinggrace.com/how-to-easily-make-diy-soundproof-panels/

    This shows difference in sound absorption and sound proofing

    https://www.acousticalsurfaces.com/blog/soundproofing/soundproofing-vs-sound-absorbing

    This article shows simple household items you can use to soundproof areas

    https://improvepodcast.com/household-items-you-can-use-to-soundproof/

    This is just other people’s comments on loud noise and how it affects them and an apartment or house structural integrity.

    https://www.quora.com/Can-wall-vibrations-from-loud-music-cause-damage-to-the-structural-integrity-of-a-house-or-apartment-building

    This is Forbes on noise pollution hidden dangers –

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamiegold/2020/02/25/the-hidden-dangers-of-noise-pollution-at-home/

    This article shows a business that went 90 percent eco and did sound proofing.
    “For soundproofing, the interior design features green walls and soft-felt finishes.”

    https://interestingengineering.com/innovation/building-dismantled-reused-90

    There appears to be lots of solutions on noise issues. I respect music lovers same as I respect a caregiver concerned of his god son not sleeping well due to outside noise of late night issues. There appears to be common ground on solutions not blame or ridicule.

    Sincerely,
    Kristen Burns-Warren

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