JONESBORO — The recent wave of gun-related crimes in Jonesboro are related, Mayor Harold Copenhaver and Police Chief Rick Elliott acknowledged Tuesday at a news conference at City Hall.
“The shootings this week involve one group of people trying to settle their disputes with gunplay,” Elliott said. “We know there are witnesses to the crime, although they are reluctant to reveal information out of fear of retaliation. It makes our job harder, but sometimes the only way we can make a case is with forensic evidence.”
As of Monday, there were eight incidents of gun violence in Jonesboro during the past five days.
He said drug dealing and gang affiliation are fueling the shootings. He said about 1,000 youths and young adults are estimated to be involved with these groups.
“We won’t stand by and let drug dealers be in our community without consequences,” Elliott said. “We’re not going to tolerate crime in Jonesboro.”
Elliott and Copenhaver agreed that more resources have been deployed to improve public safety, including adding more surveillance cameras in crime-ridden areas.
“We will continue to invest in public safety and dedicate resources to make arrests and get criminals off the street,” Copenhaver said.
Elliott said after-school programs and getting pastors involved are ways to move youths away from criminal and gang activities.
“The best way to fight crime is to invest in our kids,” he said.
Elliott said a stronger home life is missing with many of the youths.
During the latest shootings, many of the witnesses and victims were 18 and younger, according to police reports.
The number of shooting incidents in Jonesboro are at 67 for 2021, which matches the number for 2019, according to a news release. The number for 2020 were down, likely because of the pandemic, the release said.
Copenhaver said violent crime in Jonesboro hasn’t changed much per-capita.
“That said, if you are a victim of a crime, statistics don’t matter,” he said.
On Monday, police were dispatched to a “shots fired” call from the area around the Southside Softball Complex. A short time later, police were notified that a gunshot victim was admitted to NEA Baptist Memorial Hospital.
Devonte Wesson, 18, of the 3400 block of Preakness Drive, was later transferred to a Memphis hospital, suffering from a gunshot wound to the back of the head, according to the police report.
On Tuesday, Elliott said Wesson’s condition “is not good.”
On Monday night at about 9:15, police were called to East Highland Drive about a residence and vehicles being struck by gunshots. Police found 14 9 mm Luger brand shell casings in the 3800 block of East Highland. They recovered bullets from an apartment and two vehicles in the area.
No one was injured.
There were seven reports of shots being fired in Jonesboro over the weekend with two people being shot, according to the Jonesboro Police Department.
One incident that isn’t related occurred at 2:42 a.m. Monday, police said Noah Nathaniel Nickerson, 23, of 7812 Stanley Road, called police and told them that he had shot his 54-year-old father, according to the police report.
The father was taken to St. Bernards Medical Center, where he was listed in critical condition on Monday.
Nickerson is being held on suspicion of first-degree battery and a failure to appear warrant.
In other shooting incidents that were related:
Police were dispatched at 2:45 a.m. Sunday morning to the 1600 block of Garland Drive in reference to a shooting.
When police arrived, they found a 17-year-old male with a gunshot wound to the groin area, JPD reported. He was transported to St. Bernards Medical Center’s Emergency Room for treatment.
Several shell casings were located at the scene, police said.
A suspect pulled up to a residence at about 8:49 p.m. Sunday and fired several shots into it in the 1400 block of Smoot Drive. Police said there was damage to the siding and window sills to the residence and that three bullet holes were found.
Police were sent to the 500 block of North Caraway Road at 12:11 a.m. Sunday in response to gunshots being heard. Police found three shell casings outside of an apartment building in the area.
A 36-year-old Jonesboro woman told police at 9:13 a.m. Sunday that three males shot at her residence in the 4000 block of Griggs Avenue. Police found shell casings at the scene but no damage. This comes just days after a shooting was under investigation in the same area on Monday, police said in their report. The three suspects were listed as three males, 18 years old, 17 years old and 16 years old.
A 36-year-old Jonesboro man reported Friday night that five or six gunshot were fired in the 600 block of Oak Street.
A 38-year-old Jonesboro woman reported that someone fired several shots into her vehicle Friday afternoon in the 3200 block of Kingsbury Street. Police reported that the back window of her Chevrolet Malibu was completely shattered.