GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A Gulfport neighborhood came together Tuesday evening hoping to learn more about a report of an attempted kidnapping that happened earlier this week in their community. Yolanda James organized the meeting and couldn't believe the turn out. She says it speaks volumes about her community.
"We're strong, and we're not going to give up and we're going to take it back. They're tried, but we're going to take it back," said James.
Still dressed in his Class A uniform after attending the funeral of Janaya Thompson, Gulfport Police Chief Leonard Papania addressed the crowd about Sunday's report that a man tried to kidnap a 13-year-old girl from her home on 43rd Street. But first he asked everyone in the room to bow their heads in a moment of silence for the Thompson Family.
Chief Papania then put rumors to rest about the attempted kidnapping and the Janaya Thompson murder case having anything at all in common. He also warned everyone about spreading unconfirmed information.
"Sometimes we get on Facebook and we push information and we're not validating information," said Papania.
Several city of Gulfport leaders were in attendance, including Mayor Billy Hewes, and Councilman Rusty Walker, who lives in Bayou View. He also addressed the audience about social media.
"We're just saying if you have valid information in a group like our Bayou View closed community group on Facebook, and you want to post something about it, let's make sure that it's fact and not speculation," said Walker.
Chief Papania told residents about a police website where neighbors can check crime in their area: http://www.gulfport-ms.gov/police/crimemapping.html
That can be a helpful tool, especially for new residents like Will Shurley and his family.
"I think hearing the chief address a lot of the community's concerns was very helpful. Not only in terms of sharing information, but in terms of letting us know what we can do in response to what has happened here in Gulfport recently," said Shurley.
Police still do not have a suspect in custody for the attempted kidnapping. If you have any information that could help investigators, call the Gulfport Police Department at (228) 868-5959.