Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Sheriff, District Attorney, county chairwoman react to Long Leaf Park shooting

WILMINGTON — Multiple shots were fired Wednesday evening at Long Leaf Park near the basketball courts while families were gathered by the softball fields.

At least two people fired their weapons around 7 p.m., with stray bullets hitting cars and no reported injuries, according to WECT.

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Families scattered as the shots were fired, scaring children and parents alike.

Late Thursday, New Hanover County Sheriff Ed McMahon shared an update, stating he had increased patrols at the park. “Last night’s event was a tragic event for everyone involved. Any and all shootings are terrible and certainly made worse when they involve the innocent lives of our children at large gatherings,” he said. “I am committed to providing a safe environment at all of our county parks. Beginning today I have increased patrols of the parks. I have also added two Deputies to be present during the Little League functions.”

McMahon urged anyone with any information that would help identify the individuals involved in the shooting to come forward by calling 910-798-4162 or submitting a tip anonymously online.

“As for the investigation we continue to investigate all of the information that we gathered and will continue to follow all leads.  We would implore the community to continue to give us any information you may have, so that we can identify these individuals and hold them accountable,” McMahon wrote in the statement.

In a different statement, District Attorney Ben David urged those closest to the gunfire to come forward.

“Last night’s gunfire at Long Leaf Park has shaken us all. This is yet another example of innocent people being caught in the crossfire of illegal gun activity within our city. When gunfire erupts in a crowded place there is great potential for harm, particularly, in this instance, to children,” David wrote in the statement. “Justice officials rely upon the cooperation of witnesses to apprehend suspects and convict them in a courtroom. At this time, the witnesses in closest proximity to the gunfire have not come forward to participate in this investigation.”

David said without witness cooperation, justice can’t be served.

“We are asking for your help to identify those who put so many lives at risk last night. Without the cooperation of witnesses, the sanctity of our public spaces for families to gather will continue to be compromised,” he wrote. “This violence must end, and every member of our community must do their part to ensure that no more harm is created. When these crimes are charged, my office will prosecute these offenders to the fullest extent allowed by law.”

Thursday, New Hanover County Chairwoman Julia Olson-Boseman issued a statement condemning gun violence in the community.

“I am saddened and shocked by last night’s shooting that occurred at New Hanover County’s Long Leaf Park. Fortunately, there were no injuries and I appreciate the quick response of our law enforcement. The Sheriff’s Office is investigating and plans to have more law enforcement presence at the park in the coming days and weeks,” she wrote. “I know there were many families and children at the park last night for baseball games and to play, and that this was scary and traumatizing for so many of them. I want all of you who were at the park, and our entire community, to know that we will continue to work hard to ensure our parks are safe, and we will work with our law enforcement partners so that an incident like this doesn’t happen again. We have to do more to address gun violence and end this community problem. Long Leaf Park is beloved by so many and our team is committed to keep it safe for everyone.”

New Hanover County Schools also reached out to families, offering crisis counseling for students impacted by Wednesday evening’s events.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more details become available.

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