Federal task force formed to fight gun violence in Rocky Mount | The Enterprise
The Enterprise

Federal task force formed to fight gun violence in Rocky Mount

Posted on May 11, 2022

Local news

The new task force will focus on the sources of crime guns, including the prosecution of gun traffickers, straw purchasers, suppliers of guns to juveniles and criminals using non-serialized ‘ghost guns’ in crimes.” — Mike Easley Jr. U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina


Mike Easley Jr.

Mike Easley Jr.

ROCKY MOUNT — U.S. Attorney Michael Easley has announced a multi-agency task force of local, state and federal law enforcement to combat violent crime in the city.

The Violent Crime Action Plan initiative has been launched in collaboration with Rocky Mount Police Chief Robert Hassell, in advance of the summer months when shootings typically increase.

“Rocky Mount is a place of great promise, brimming with growth and opportunity,” said Easley, the chief federal prosecutor for the Eastern District of North Carolina. “But that opportunity will not be fully realized until we unite as a community to stop the violence. Since April 30, Rocky Mount has seen four homicides and three other shootings, including one earlier this week that wounded an innocent 9-year-old boy. Our state, local, and federal partners are committed to doing all we can, in conjunction with community stakeholders, to stop this wave of gun violence. First and foremost, that means getting illegal guns off the streets and bringing those responsible for the violence to swift justice – for the victims and for the community at large.”

Hassell said he believes the new initiative will protect the community at a time when its residents are understandably concerned.

“We appreciate the support and assistance from our federal partners and Edgecombe County Sheriff Cleveland Atkinson and Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone,” Hassell said. “By working together, we can reduce violent crime and make sure that our community is safe.”

The ATF stands with the Rocky Mount community in its push against gun violence, said Anthony Spotswood, assistant special agent in charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

“We are bringing our resources and expertise for a systematic and coordinated effort to target the most violent offenders on the streets,” Spotswood said.

The Nash County Sheriff’s Office and Edgecombe County Sheriff’s Office have agreed to devote officers to the VCAP effort. The resources will supplement the work of the Rocky Mount Police Department and other partners in the investigation and prosecution of gun violence.

Stone said his deputies are working with all the agencies involved to reduce the violence in Rocky Mount.

“The Nash County Sheriff’s Office is dedicated to safer communities by enforcement of gang, gun and drug violations,” Stone said.

Atkinson said he’s grateful for the assistance and partnership of the agencies involved.

“As law enforcement officers, we are here to make a positive difference in the lives of our citizens, and ensuring their safety is paramount,” Atkinson said. “We look forward to continuing proactive efforts to counteract criminal behavior and ensure safe communities.”

Easley said the coordinated effort the agencies bring to the initiative will make Rocky Mount a safer place to live, work and do business.

VCAP is a three-pronged approach drawing on close partnerships among federal, state and local law enforcement, as well as the community, to combat violence. 


The task force will designate lead prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office and District Attorney’s Office to prioritize the review of all gun crime cases with local and federal law enforcement for accelerated action.   

VCAP means sustained, proactive and coordinated efforts to identify and prosecute the most significantly violent repeat offenders and dangerous criminal organizations in the Rocky Mount area.  

Focusing on the sources of crime guns, including the prosecution of gun traffickers, straw purchasers, suppliers of guns to juveniles and criminals using non-serialized “ghost guns” in crimes. 


Task force members will analyze crime data to identify trends, patterns and hot spots to deploy resources where they are needed most. 

The task force leaders will leverage federal influence to bring in technology and resources to address local gun violence. 

The increasing use of Crime Gun Intelligence through the ATF’s National Integrated Ballistic Information Network will help identify and prosecute the serial trigger-pullers driving gun violence in local communities.   


The task force will raise awareness through youth education. EDNC is working with the Rocky Mount Police Department to introduce programs, such as “Educating Kids about Gangs and Guns,” into Nash and Edgecombe County schools in hopes of engaging students, law enforcement, and educators in life-saving conversations.    

The task force will engage with local offender reentry programs, such as the Nash Edgecombe Wilson Re-entry Council, in their ongoing work to help returning citizens successfully reintegrate into society following incarceration through employment, transportation and housing-related support. 

Meaningful community engagement by law enforcement, hearing from the communities most affected by violence to better partner in stopping it through supporting prevention, intervention and reentry services will be a big part of the initiative.


The new task force ensures that Rocky Mount will have the full range of enforcement tools available to stop the violence, according to organizers.

The FBI, the Drug Enforcement Agency, Homeland Security and the U.S. Marshals Service will also be involved.  Prosecutors from the Seventh Judicial District Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office are also engaged in the effort. 

The initiative is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, which is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make neighborhoods safer for everyone.

As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

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