Wiggins neighborhood in fear; police say help us make arrests

WIGGINS, MS (WLOX) - People living in a Wiggins neighborhood say they're living in fear. Neighbors on Stevon Moore Street contacted WLOX saying over the past year they have not been able to walk down the street without the fear of being shot. The latest shooting happened just this past weekend. The police chief said he understands their frustrations and he needs their help to put the people responsible behind bars.

Twice in the past six months, gunshots have rung out on Stevon Moore Street in Wiggins. Fortunately, no one was hurt. But police know bullets don't have names.

Chief Matt Barnett said, "When a gun goes off, you never know where that bullet is going to land."

Wiggins police said there are a lot of good families living on this street, but there is also drug activity. Officers believe the shootings stem from territorial disputes between an older generation of drug dealers with some younger dealers.

"When you don't have the people willing to come forward and testify in court, then you have to go about it a harder way, which is developing other ways of getting probable cause to make these arrests," said Chief Barnett. "Sometimes without good witnesses, all you have is circumstantial evidence. We need physical evidence to be able to get a conviction and with witnesses it really helps."

Neighbors told WLOX they are afraid to let their children play outside because of armed people hanging around. Police say some people might also worry about retaliation for cooperating with police.

"If I've got to meet them on the Coast, Hattiesburg, wherever," said Chief Barnett. "Crimestoppers. If they want to write us an anonymous letter that would even help. Mail it. Anything. Give us some leads. When you've got 40 or 50 people out here it's kind of hard to say, unless you've got an eyewitness, who actually did what. So those kinds of things help."

Police said the shootings took place in large crowds of people, many of whom don't live in the neighborhood. So it's harder for people who do live on the street to identify who are the people present and say who fired the shots. Wiggins police say they are taking measures to deal with neighborhood crime. They're investigating drug activity, beefing up patrols and handing out information about Crimestoppers an anonymous tip line. That number is (877) 787-5898.

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