BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - In the aftermath of two fatal weekend shootings, Gulfport's Police Chief is blaming escalating violence on a criminal subculture in his city, and he's fed up with a group that has no morals and no regard for the law. Chief Leonard Papania said he's tired of so many residents choosing to turn a blind eye to this type of behavior.
Gulfport police said Anessia Daniels, 43, is the fifth person murdered in the city this year. Officers say she lost her life because of a drug deal gone bad that had nothing to do with her. Her 25-year-old son, Gregory Daniels, was also shot.
"Our investigation revealed that this murder and aggravated assault occurred because a dispute over a bad drug deal between Gregory Daniels and the suspects, John Minter, Catrell Agee and Karlos Oatis," said Papania. "Each has been arrested and charged."
Gulfport police said at the time of the shooting, Minter was out on probation for a 2008 robbery and 2013 aggravated assault.
"This violence is concentrated to certain and consistent areas," said Papania. "These violent crimes are not random. Much of this violent crime is associated with illegal sales of controlled substances. There is also a criminal subculture that is so contrary to the actual culture we live in. This subculture is indifferent to law, law enforcement and the moral standards that all our community lives by."
A shooting on Sunday at an apartment complex left Robert Johnson, 18, dead. According to investigators, Johnson and his brother, Tevon Johnson, tried to confront a man who was with his girlfriend and small child. Officers said the family then went to their apartment for safety.
"Anticipating violence, the adult male victim quickly loaded his family into a car and retreated to his apartment for safety," Papania said. "The Johnsons pursued in their vehicle while brandishing firearms. The family secured themselves in their apartment. The Johnsons were observed by the adult male victim approaching with handguns. Tevon observed the male victim and shot at him from the courtyard. The victim then armed himself with a shotgun and then returned gunfire. Then, the victim notified the police."
Papania said the attitude some people have towards police is not helping.
"I'm sick and tired of hearing this no snitching. Don't work with the police," Papania said. "It's the same group of people who will go bellyaching how good a person these criminals were right before they died. It's sad, because we shouldn't be losing our young people to crime, but we sit back and we allow this. If we allow them to live these lives that they're living, how are we supposed to be surprised when they lay dead in the parking lot? When we see them leave with guns. When we know they're not going to work. When they've got fat wads of money. When they are depicting this life on Facebook. How can we sit back and wonder why did this happen?"
Police said part of the blame is with the media, both social media and main stream.
"In every community in our city, there are people who are working with us to eradicate crime. However, there are those who are turning a blind eye and even defending the criminal lifestyle that are leading up to violent crime," said Papania. "We live in a media age. Look at Facebook. Look at how many of our young people are depicting themselves with drugs, guns and money. This criminal subculture, and to some degree even mainstream media, is glamorizing this lifestyle. We accept that. That's our national profile now. Speak ill of the police and glamorize criminal lifestyle, and then y'all wonder what we're going to do about it."
Gulfport police said the shooting death of Johnson will go before a grand jury. On Monday, his family drove down from Jackson, wanting to speak with the chief to get answers about the shooting, but they were told they'd have to make an appointment.
They tell WLOX they are upset that the man who shot and killed Johnson has not been charged nor his name publicly released.
Robert's brother, Tevon, who was charged with aggravated assault in the case, tells a very different story of the whole incident. He said it all started after his brother flirted with a woman, not realizing she had a boyfriend.
"Me and my little brother, we were leaving, going to the junkyard and we saw a person walking," said Tevon. "He was trying to holler at her. While he was trying to holler at her, two dudes pulled up in a car. We didn't know she had a boyfriend or nothing."
Tevon said the woman's boyfriend became upset.
"He hopped out the car like, 'That's my old lady.' My little brother was like, 'My fault. I didn't know she was your old lady.'"
Next, Tevon said he and his brother realized they forgot something they needed to take with them to the junkyard and were headed back to an apartment.
"Next thing you know, a gunshot rang out and shot my little brother. I saw he shot my little brother. I saw the dude cocking the gun again and was about to shoot, so I fired shots back," said Tevon. "They got me for aggravated assault, because once you see your little brother get killed and you see someone about to shoot you next, you're going to try to do anything to defend yourself."
Tevon is currently out on bond.