Gulfport Police Chief angry about violence, many residents agree

Gulfport Police Chief angry about violence, many residents agree
Reporter Michelle Lady speaking with Ashton Park resident Catrease Hyde (Photo source: WLOX)
Reporter Michelle Lady speaking with Ashton Park resident Catrease Hyde (Photo source: WLOX)

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - After back-to-back fatal shootings over the weekend, Gulfport Police Chief Leonard Papania is not holding back his feelings about the violence.

"I'm sick and tired of hearing this no snitching, don't work with the police, and it's the same group of people who will go bellyaching how good a person these criminals were right before they died," Papania said. "It's sad, because we shouldn't be losing our young people to crime, but if we sit back and we allow this. We allow them to live these lives that they're living, so how are we supposed to be surprised when they lay dead in the parking lot?"

Papania is angry that people are turning a blind eye to senseless killings, and he's not alone.

"If we don't take care of our children, then the streets will take care of them," Ashton Park resident Catrease Hyde said.

The apartment complex Hyde lives in is the same place a teen was shot to death Sunday.

"My 13-year-old," Hyde said. "I took him and showed him, this is what happens when you are playing with drugs and playing with guns or you are involving yourself with friends that are not in school."

She agrees with the police chief: The community sets the standards.

"I'm starting at home with my children, and I try to suggest that with everybody," Hyde said. "He is not to blame. We as parents and as a community, we are to blame, because we allow things to happen."

Debbie Rollberg also lives in the apartments.

"You can tell when there's a drug deal going on. You can see it all the time," Rollberg said.

She knows residents turn a blind eye, but she also believes law enforcement does, too.

"I think they need to patrol more, and that would stop the problem," Rollberg said.

Less than three miles away from the apartments, North Gulfport is another place where locals admit drugs and crime are prevalent.

"Spice, marijuana, crack, methamphetamine, all of that," North Gulfport resident Milas Lee Harbuy said.

"Ain't nothing the police can do. That's just a product of our environment," Antonio Lewis said.

Lewis thinks police need to be friendlier so the community will work with them. Others believe the finger can only be pointed at the public.

"Whatever we got going on in Gulfport, MS," North Gulfport resident Anthony Worthen said. "We need to stop this y'all, because there's a lot of love out here, and it's crazy that we are killing each other off."

"We need to get along better, and if we start doing that, the other things will take care of itself," resident Wayne Bridges said.

While some may say the police chief's words were harsh, most believe it's what needs to be said.

"Papania, I think you are absolutely correct," Harbuy said. "I'm on your side."

"We need to make a change now, so our change in the future would be better than what it is today," Hyde said.

Wednesday, Ashton Park managers are holding a meeting for residents so those who live there and the management team can come up with ways to try and stop the violence.

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