As her children looked on, a 26-year-old Greensboro motorist was shot twice in the head.
On a Sunday afternoon in March, someone killed Carolyn Tiger with a semi-automatic rifle ... over a fender bender.
Police say Tiger died after being taken to Moses Cone Hospital. It was the eighth of 22 homicides in the city so far this year.
Tiger’s Nissan had collided with a light-blue Hyundai at the intersection of South Elm-Eugene Street and Meadowview Road. After the cars continued along South Elm-Eugene Street north to Patton Avenue, the Hyundai’s driver tried to block Tiger’s car.
Then he got out of his car, removed the rifle from his trunk and opened fire on Tiger’s car as she attempted to drive away. Police are still looking for the man who fired the shots.
A recently released autopsy report has shed additional light on how the incident unfolded. But it doesn’t tell us why.
It’s certainly understandable that a driver would be angered if someone hit his car and didn’t stop. It is not understandable that this would be treated as a capital offense.
Pull out your cellphone, not a rifle. Take down the license plate number. File a complaint with police. But, for God’s sake, don’t kill anyone.
The article about the autopsy appeared in the News & Record eight days after a 14-year-old was fatally shot at Sussmans Park in Greensboro. And two days after a spray of bullets pierced the walls of an apartment in Winston-Salem, killing a 5-year-old. Arrested were a 17-year-old, a 15-year-old and a 14-year-old in what police suspect was a random shooting — a luck-of-the-draw fatality.
Coincidentally, over the weekend, area NPR stations were airing a segment of the TED Radio Hour in which physician Gary Slutkin was explaining a program that both Greensboro and Guilford County have considered adopting. Slutkin, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, contends that violence should be treated like a contagious disease.
Slutkin conceived the approach after noticing how, when it is mapped, violence occurs in clusters, just like the AIDS and malaria he has treated in Africa. A program he founded in 2000, Cure Violence, involves three steps:
Interrupt transmission by “detecting and finding first cases.” (“Violence interruptors” are hired from the communities involved.)
Prevent further spread.
Shift norms through community activities and education.
Cure Violence is not without its skeptics.
In Durham, the only North Carolina city that has adopted the program, homicides are up this year. Since Jacksonville, Fla., initiated its program on June 8 there have been 11 homicides in a city that has seen 63 so far in 2019.
But the model’s overall track record is impressive. A variety of third-party evaluators, including the U.S. Justice Department, have found significant decreases in crime in communities that use the Cure Violence template. The concept is worth a serious look as part of broader efforts to save lives here, where, thankfully, we do view opioid addiction as the disease it is.
Clearly, the status quo is not working. It’s time to try something else.