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Mayor Vi Lyles On The Deadly Shooting At UNC Charlotte

Chris Crews
Niner Times
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police, Medic join UNCC Police on campus after shooting.

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles said Tuesday's deadly shooting at UNC Charlotte and other recent shootings have put "a cloud" over the city.  She spoke with WFAE "Morning Edition" host Lisa Worf early Wednesday about her reaction and what she sees as the city's challenges. 

WORF: Mayor Lyles, we only know a few details at this point about yesterday's shooting. I know it's been a long night. What have you learned at this point?

Mayor Vi Lyles speaks during Monday's special council meeting to vote on the city's bid for the Republican National Convention in 2020.
Credit David Boraks / WFAE
FILE: Mayor Vy Lyles, 2018.

LYLES: Well, we haven't learned much that's different or new from about 11 or 12 (last night). Of course we've got the shooter, 22 years old. He's been charged with two counts of murder and four counts of attempted murder. The campus lockdown has been lifted, I understand. And I just want to say that you know there are not the words to express what it means to have a shooting at a place where people come to learn and grow and plan for their future. I believe that the UNC(C) campus police were heroic in their efforts to work with this and now we have, we're going to be joined by CMPD with the investigation and any help that we need. The governor has really emphasized whatever we need to have happen ... SBI  (State Bureau of Investigation), whatever resources that the state needs to provide, he will make sure that that happens for us.

WORF: What have you heard from school leaders? 

[Share Your Reactions: UNCC Shooting Attack]

LYLES: You know all the way ... when this happened I was still in the office and immediately after learning from the chancellor's staff that he was on a flight, I thought that I needed to notify the governor. This is a state university, something we're all proud of, a system that we are proud of, and the governor immediately said 'I'm on my way.' He arrived a little bit after 10:00 at the same time that the chancellor did. And we've worked together.

I can't express my appreciation for everyone on the chancellor's team on that campus working with CMPD and Medic. It was really a well coordinated response. Now we've got to do the work to figure out what are the questions -  why? How? You know all of those things have to be answered now as much as we can.

So the investigation part has ended. But at the same time we have to just remember that these are people with lives and families and this is our city and I'm just not quite sure how we're going to begin to address what I see almost as a cloud over our city, with more violence and shooting.  We're going to have to work harder as a community.

WORF: Your role as city council is is somewhat limited in this respect. I mean there is CMPD that's looking over the investigation. How do you see your role moving forward? Is that one of support? Is it one of advocacy at this point? 

LYLES: Right now our role is to work with that university campus and the chancellor and provide whatever resources he needs for making that campus feel safe again. You know that's what people really want. They want to know that they can personally feel safe. And so whatever things we need to institute on the guidance of the many experts in the field, we're going to look at those and then we're going to step back. And this is one of the things that I believe that our council and and me, I believe them, assess what happened. Figure out what we can do better and make sure that we do it through the lens of community and community engagement. And knowing that the people that live in this city are the most important asset we have. And we've got to create a place where they feel their personal safety is first and foremost.

WORF: How do you want to see the community, and the city's support of that, coming together and starting this healing but also starting this self reflection?

LYLES: Well I think it's self reflection but I also think that you know you have to take a very serious analytical approach to this. So we're going to start doing that after we get through that place where we can have that kind of conversation.

But the first and foremost conversation is about, you know, making sure that those victims - those injured and those that died - are treated well, their families have access to the counseling, the campus has access to the counseling. And then when we have that part addressed through our community I hope that all of our houses of worship will address this over the weekend. I hope that where we gather, we'll have an honest conversation about how to deal with this and what makes people feel better about being able to send their children to a university campus. And we will listen and reflect on that. And that's when we start thinking okay, this is what the community has asked for. What can we now do?

But all of us know that this is about something that's greater than one shooting. It's been shootings the last several weeks. It's just been endemic of so much that I just can't grasp all of it at this point.

WORF: As far as is gun violence and addressing that of course in this case there's a lot of details we don't know. But going forward is there things that you would like to see, laws that you'd like to see change at the at the state level?

LYLES:  You know there's going to be questions like that but we're not going to have answers to immediately. This is not something that locally we can do. This is something that has to be addressed through what I would consider everyone, with the bipartisan support that we have. In addition to talking with the governor, I spoke with Senator (Phil) Berger and (N.C. House) Speaker Moore to let them know this experience was happening in Charlotte. And we need their support. Now what does support mean. We will have to work with them to determine it.

WORF: That's Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles. Miss Lyles, thank you very much.

LYLES: Thank you. God bless our city.

Lisa Worf traded the Midwest for Charlotte in 2006 to take a job at WFAE. She worked with public TV in Detroit and taught English in Austria before making her way to radio. Lisa graduated from University of Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in English.