Police standoff sparks social media frenzy

Police standoff sparks social media frenzy

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Moments after it began, news of a police standoff in Gulfport spread lightning fast on social media.

Given the climate in the country with police involved shootings and violence against officers, more citizens are using technology to share what's happening.

As many folks were just waking up, unexpected visitors showed up on Gulf Ave.

"When I come out here, I seen a lot of cops everywhere," said Terrance Smith.

When Smith heard about shots fired, he couldn't help but worry about his Gulfport neighborhood.

"We've got to try and stop the violence out here. We've got kids living out here, growing up, man. We've got to try and make our community better, you know. All this going on, we don't need that," said Smith.

When Joma Shelby saw what was happening down the street, he saw the opportunity to become a reporter. He whipped out his smart phone and began sharing video on Facebook Live.

"Actually, this was my first time using Facebook Live, but I knew how to use it. So, as soon as I saw the situation outside, I said, hey, let me catch this live so people can actually know the truth and see the truth. Everything the news was saying lined up with everything the people saw from my live," said Shelby. "It's just one of those experiences. You don't wake up every morning and see something like this outside your door. So, when you do, you try and capture this moment."

Did the recent national news and growing tension across the country cross his mind?

"It wasn't because of a race thing. You know, it was pretty much just about a justice type thing. I didn't know if the couple they were talking about were black or white. Just one of those things that hey, everyone needs to know the truth and it needs to be documented," said Shelby.

Shelby said the evolution of social media puts real power in the hands of ordinary citizens.

"As each new app or each new gadget comes out, it helps us to be more connected to the world. I mean, that's a wonderful thing, that we can actually be out there and see what's going on for ourselves, though our own eyes, and be able to capture that and show other people too. So, technology is wonderful and amazing," said Shelby.

Shelby praised Gulfport police for their handling of the situation, saying they defused the situation peacefully and did an awesome job.

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