Gulfport neighbors alarmed by violent crime

Gulfport neighbors alarmed by violent crime

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - There are still more questions than answers about why a 14 year old brought a gun and 100 rounds of ammunition to the North Gulfport 7th & 8th Grade School. What is certain is that many residents are alarmed by the incident and concerned about an increase in violent crime.

Amanda Rankin is a young mother who lives on Illinois Avenue, near the school where the armed teenager was arrested.

"Man, I was shocked. I was shocked. I had no idea, I was shocked. Very shocked. That's very surprising," she told WLOX News Now.

She not only lives and raises her children in this neighborhood, she grew up here. And is alarmed by the increase in violence. She says there's definitely more violent crime happening than when she was growing up.

"Oh, absolutely. Yeah, more crime these days. I mean, when I was growing up, we had to be at home before the street lights came on. So, it's really, really tough around here right now."

Tuesday night, there was a meeting at the Isaiah Fredericks Community Center sponsored by the NAACP to talk about crime and finding better ways to prevent it. Unfortunately, the day after came the triple shooting just down the street and the day after that, the student arrested at a nearby school with a gun and ammo.

"What better way to serve your community than to work with the youth?" said School Resource Officer Michael Saucier.

Saucier says school officers are trained to handle a variety of safety threats, including cases when a weapon is discovered.

"Sure, absolutely. And that's from federal regulatory standards, that's from state standards, as well as our own personal standards and operating procedures we've put into place," said Saucier.

The veteran officer says establishing trust with students is a critical part of the job.

"They get the opportunity to know us on a first name basis and we get to know them on a first name basis. Opens the doors to problem solving and decision making," he said.

WLOX News Now spoke today with Gulfport City Council Member Ella Holmes-Hines. She said concerns about violent crime are not limited to the North Gulfport community. And she wants to organize a citywide summit to discuss the issue and possible solutions.

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