The shooting at UNC Charlotte Tuesday that killed two people and injured four others has cast a shadow over the city and amplified concerns over gun violence. On WFAE's "Morning Edition" city leaders said the city needs to come together as a community and focus on the problem and victims.
"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," Mayor Vi Lyles said.
A vigil for the victims is planned Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the campus’ Halton Arena. Lyles called on the community to reflect on the shooting.
“I hope all of our houses of worship will address this over the weekend," Lyles said. "I hope that where we gather will 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’ll listen and reflect on that."
City council member Greg Phipps, who represents the university area, also called for a community-wide discussion about gun violence.
“We have to have a conversation at all levels in our community over this,” Phipps said.
Former state senator and city council member Malcolm Graham lives near the campus and went there Wednesday night to offer his support. Graham’s sister was one of the victims in the 2015 Charleston church shootings. He told WFAE what the community needs to do right now is to pause and not focus on the shooter.
“But focus on the families that lost their loved ones. Focus on those who are trying to heal with their injuries. Focus on the psyche of a campus that just went through a horrible ordeal. And come together as a community," he said.
Graham noted there are still a lot of unknowns about Tuesday’s shooting. UNC Charlotte’s police chief, Jeff Baker, says the shooter had a handgun.
Graham said he’d like to see a push for more gun control, including making it harder to obtain semi-automatic style weapons, but doesn’t think that will happen anytime soon.
“We have no courage to deal with the elephant in our country, which is the proliferation of guns and no common sense to police this – and we just accept this as normal,” said Graham.
Robert Dawkins with the SAFE Coalition, told WFAE city leaders should not lose sight of the rising number of homicides in their response to the UNC Charlotte shooting.
“We should put as much emphasis on the 44 murders that we have in Charlotte as we do on this one particular incident and try to see how we can get our hands on addressing both,” said Dawkins.