GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - There's a debate going on among Gaston Point neighbors. Was Sunday's murder part of an escalating crime rate in their community? Or was the killing of Raymond Howze, III a random act of violence that could happen anywhere? Ask most people in Gaston Point and they'll say the murder had nothing to do with the neighborhood.
The Reverend James Beal of Little Rock Baptist Church said, "I was born and raised in the Gaston Point community and been here all my life. In and out of here. Crime is no different in Gaston Point than anywhere else."
"We had a tragedy in which one young man perished. That's a real tragedy, and we hate to see that anywhere," said Gulfport City Councilman Truck Casey. "It's not just in Gaston Point. We've had shootings out in Ashton Apartments. We've had shootings at Waffle House. It's just something that's a random thing. And I think the young man, Raymond Howze, was just at the wrong place at the wrong time."
However, some other Gaston Point neighbors, some of whom didn't want to talk on camera, told me they often hear gun shots at night. They said they feel crime in on the rise because there are not enough resources, as far as recreation and jobs.
"We don't have anything to do. We need a job. We used to be union halls and all kinds of businesses down here," said resident Jerry Nichols. "It's a community without a place to eat. We have all these people here standing up. We need jobs, jobs, jobs."
On Tuesday night, a prayer vigil was held in memory of Howze.