Mike Purzycki

Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki at Kirkwood Park on Tuesday, July 27, 2021

A 28-year-old man was shot and killed in a double shooting in the 2400 block of Jessup Street Monday night, police announced Tuesday afternoon. The reveal of this death makes five people dead and three others injured, including a 12-year-old girl, by gun violence in less than three hours on the evening in question.

According to Wilmington Police the victim was show in the 2400 block of Jessup Street around 9:50 p.m. on July 26, 2021. A 22-year-old man was also discovered shot in connection to the incident and was at an area hospital in stable condition. 

On Tuesday, while at the ribbon-cutting for a brand new playground at Kirkwood Park outside Stubbs Early Education Center, Mayor Mike Purzycki took some time aside from the joyous sounds of children playing to address the ongoing issue of violence in the streets of his city. 

"It hurts," Purzycki said. "It really hurts. I mean, I woke up early this morning and looked at the tally, and it was really a heartbreaking moment."

The earlier incident, the mayor said, appears to be an interpersonal issue. 

"[It's] something we've come to--not 'expect'--but it's more likely individuals having personal problems over one thing or another, and before you know it, they do stuff that most of us can't understand, but we start to expect those behaviors," he said. 

However, in an incident that left two adult women shot and killed, a 12-year-old girl injured, and the male suspect dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, Purzycki said he tries to process the incident as being domestic in nature. 

"The other one was a tragic domestic thing that, it just hurts to think that people have such despair that that's the only solution for dealing with their pain and frustration," Purzycki said. "And so, you kind of compartmentalize it in one way. You compartmentalize it from the point of this problem-solving point-of-view, and you put that aside and say, 'This is either a mental illness or deep depression or some other pathology that I can't imagine you can do much about, other than to create a better environment to live in.'"

There's one answer that would seem to solve some of the issue, but Purzycki said it's a step his administration isn't ready to take and he's not sure the public even wants. 

"Look, aside from kind of an emotional pathology that exists everywhere, we just have this grotesque proliferation of guns," Purzycki said. "And the only way to get guns off the street, frankly, is to start bending the Constitution, which we're not about to do, and I don't think the public wants to do. But they have to understand that, except for getting guns off the street, we're kind of limited in what we can do."

Wilmington isn't alone in this issue, Purzycki pointed out, with violence across the nation trending as more people take to the streets following a year where many stayed inside during the pandemic. And while he said shorter sentences, smaller bail, and repeat offenders committing acts "over and over again," led to the trend, to focus on long-term solutions, he said the city needed to be healthier. 

"We just have to be committed to building healthy communities and not try to deal with the symptoms of social dissolution. We've got to build up our communities so that these kinds of crimes, they won't happen because those things are not symptomatic of a healthy community," he said. "So, no easy answers and, frankly, it doesn't help much when you find out that other [cities] have the same problems, because there's a face, there's a human face, behind every act of violence. And two. There are always at least two: the shooter, and the person who's shot."