GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - A double shooting in the Pine Hills neighborhood is the most recent example of the uptick in gun-related crime in Gulfport.
According Gulfport Police, a 17-year-old and a 29-year-old were both injured in the shooting Thursday night in the 2600 block of West David Drive.
Several cars were also damaged, including Romeo Fanugao’s mini van.
“This neighborhood is quiet until last night,” Fanugao said. “(Gulfport Police) said, ‘Somebody is shooting in your area and your car got hit.’”
Damages include a smashed back windshield and a bullet hole through the roof of the vehicle, all totaling at $6,600 in repairs.
Police said the shooting falls in line with a trend law enforcement is dealing with right now.
Gulfport Police Chief Chris Ryle said, “Several years ago, if you had a disagreement with somebody you fought it out with your fist but now, it’s common practice to drive by somebody’s house and shoot 15 to 20 rounds at the house.”
Officers said there’s an easy solution to help keep the crime rate low, especially among younger residents.
“We’re a gun-friendly state and everybody owns guns,” Ryle said. “The problem is people leave their guns in their cars and leave their cars unlocked.”
Crime among youth is an issue that Gulfport officers want to solve, but they said it becomes more difficult when a community chooses not to cooperate after an incident.
Police said having witnesses come forward with testimony is the missing key to locking up offenders, but a relationship needs to be formed between law enforcement and residents.
“That’s one of the things I’ve been working on since I took over as chief," said Ryle. "Building that trust between us and the community so they feel comfortable coming to us.”
That’s something the Pine Hills neighborhood wants to see before a more horrific crime happens in the area.
“If they will stop this kind of violence, this neighborhood will be happy.” Fanugao said.