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Brookhaven man takes stand against crime

Herman Collins said when he lived in Chicago, he saw the bodiesof young men in the streets “dead, from where they’d sprayed eachother with bullets.”

So when his house and the truck in his yard on Seventh Street inBrookhaven were struck with bullets from what he assumes was abypassing car on Thursday evening, he decided it was time forsomething to change.

“This is what I guess you’d call a drive-by shooting,” Collinssaid as he made his way across his yard. “I don’t care so muchabout the truck as I do the house.”

The reason, he said, is because the bullet that hit the housewent through the outer wall and into a cabinet right above wherehis wife was cooking, and through a box of Quaker Oats.

“It’s time to protest this,” he said. “We need to get thecommunity and the senior citizens and the churches involved.”

Collins said in his opinion, cutting down on crime is somethingthat needs to be taken on by everyone. If citizens remain afraidbehind closed doors, there will be no progress, he said.

“The police have a big job,” he said. “I’m ready to help put astop to this. We need to pull together and stop this thing beforeit’s too big.”

Brookhaven Police Chief Pap Henderson said Collins had calledhim and wanted to set up a meeting to discuss the situation.However, when he went by to see him, Collins was busy.

The police chief said the Thursday incident itself is beingprobed.

“It’s under investigation, and we’re definitely following up onit,” he said. “We intend to do something about it.”

Henderson said so far the details his investigators havecollected show that Collins didn’t seem to be the target of theshooting.

“I don’t think he was singled out to do bodily harm to hisfamily,” Henderson said.

Collins said the first thing he thought of when the incidenthappened was that perhaps he should start a Neighborhood Watchgroup. But even then, he said, it’s up to the citizens to get theball rolling when something happens.

“The police can’t be all over the place all the time,” he said.”If you see something happen, don’t turn your back, report it. Weneed to support each other.”

Above all, Collins said, the people of Brookhaven need tounderstand that the gang culture doesn’t have to be a part of theirchildren’s lives.

“These kids around here don’t have to live in that environment,”he said. “They don’t have their moms and dads selling them fordrugs. I’ve been there and I’ve seen that happen.”

Collins said the next step for him is to start a petition to getmembers of the community together to talk about making a standagainst the criminal element.

“Right now it’s on this side of town, but if we stop it now, itwon’t get to the other side,” he said. “It’s very important that weall sit down and try to understand one another and let the worldknow we won’t stand for this. If we do, maybe we can change somethings.”