On the fatal shooting of a 12-year-old at Lee Walker Heights: In the last few months there have been two fatal shootings and two other serious but nonfatal shootings at Lee Walker Heights. In the most recent one, called a drive-by shooting by witnesses, a 12-year-old, Derrick LaQuinn Lee Jr., died, and an 18-year-old is in the hospital with serious injuries.
I am writing to ask: Where is the questioning and outrage about this and other fatal shootings of area young people, especially those in public housing? Why is no one, specifically, Mayor Esther Manheimer, City Council representatives, ministers at area churches, local activists, civil rights groups and their members demanding answers, speaking out in public or protesting about this deadly gun violence and calling on the mayor, the Asheville Police Department and others to come up with some plan and solutions to end the killing before another one makes headlines in the Asheville area?
— John Penley
Editor’s note: Xpress contacted the mayor and City Council with a summary of the letter writer’s points and heard back from Council member Vijay Kapoor. Noting that he was speaking only for himself, Kapoor wrote: “When I ran for Council, I did so to ensure that all Asheville residents could go to sleep each night feeling safe, fed, healthy and valued, and I have been working hard to make this a reality. Several weeks ago, I met with Chief [Tammy] Hooper about Derrick’s murder and the violent crime increase we are seeing in parts of our city. To her credit, she has tried to raise this issue with Council for months. Recently, I visited Lee Walker Heights, where Derrick was killed, and other public housing communities to introduce myself and meet residents. I’m asking residents how they and we can make their neighborhood safe. Contrary to popular belief, many residents want additional police officers on-site. We need to find who shot Derrick, and I raised $2,000 of the current $5,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest. Our violent crime problem is costing lives and causing neighbors to live in fear. All of us in the community need to step up.”
For more info on the reward, see avl.mx/56s.