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‘This is the only city we’ve got’ — Dozens attend Neighborhood Watch meeting to learn how to curb suspicious activities

Brookhaven police have released few details in the shooting death of Harry Adams, a disabled man killed in his home Wednesday.

The murder — the second in Brookhaven this year — occurred in a residential area on Industrial Park Road across from the A One Stop convenience store. Adams, a 58-year-old cancer survivor, was found shot to death Wednesday afternoon in the bedroom of the house he rented. A neighbor reported gunshots around 3 a.m. but police responding to the scene found nothing out of the ordinary.

Police Chief Kenneth Collins said it does not appear that anything was stolen and it doesn’t look like there was a struggle. The case remains under investigation, he said.

Adams’ murder came the day before police were planning a start-up meeting for a Neighborhood Watch program in Brookhaven. About 50 people and several police officers gathered at the Brookhaven Building for an informational meeting organized by Cpl. Robbie Fields. The next meeting is set for May 4 in the same location at 5:30 p.m.

“We’ve got to look out for each other. This is the only city we’ve got. We’ve got to take care of it,” Collins said. “This is our community. What kind of community do you want? We want a nice community where our kids can play in the yard, where you can run, and jog, and ride your bike.”

The department’s goal is to find volunteers willing to set up Neighborhood Watch programs in their areas. Fields has training materials available for leaders and block captains, and the city will place Neighborhood Watch signs up when a group is organized.

Former Chief Pap Henderson helped set one up in the Vernondale area about eight years ago. Brookhaven Alderwoman-at-Large Karen Sullivan lives there and bragged about the neighborhood’s support for each other.

Though they initially held meetings, they communicate through the Vernondale Neighborhood Watch Facebook page. Residents post lost or found pets, suspicious vehicles seen or even death notices.

“It just draws us together and helps you know your neighbors better,” she said.

Henderson said the signs put up in designated areas sends a message to criminals.

“If you ride through some of the neighborhoods, you can see some of the neighborhood signs up,” he said. “It’s to let people coming into your neighborhood know, ‘This is a Neighborhood Watch.’ You’re telling the criminal, ‘If you come in my neighborhood. Somebody’s going to see you.’ That deters a lot of crime, too.”

Sullivan and her son walked their neighborhood in 2010, gathering interest by knocking on doors and passing out flyers. The Vernondale watch area includes six streets. She recommends keeping the areas small enough that it’s easy for everyone to recognize each other.

“If you go too big, it’s a lost cause,” she said.

Mayor Joe Cox also lives in the Vernondale neighborhood. He urged residents of the city to be aware of their surroundings and don’t be afraid to call the police.

“If you notice something strange, let someone know,” he said. “If a car goes through your neighborhood that you just don’t feel good about, and it comes back again, they’re probably up to no good. Give these guys a call and let them check it out. It’s for your protection.”

He asked those at the meeting to be good neighbors.

“Know the people in your neighborhood,” he said. “Talk to your neighbor and know who they are. Be friendly with them. Let them know that you’re around and if they need you they can call on you. We’re all in this together.”

Henderson said he knows that people are scared and are reluctant to call police with information, even anonymously. He urged them to find an officer that they can trust and tell that one person.

“Find someone on the Brookhaven police force that you trust. It doesn’t have to be the chief,” he said. “Find someone you can trust and believe in and give the Brookhaven Police Department the information that you have. It could help solve a lot of things.

“I know you all know some things, but you’ve got to trust one of the officers or the chief and give them that information.”

Meanwhile, police are continuing to investigate Adams’ homicide as well as the shooting death of Tony McGee, a 19-year-old who was found dead in his car around 4 a.m. March 20. The car was crashed into a power pole at the intersection of East Monticello and Grenn streets.

Anyone with information about the crimes is asked to call the Brookhaven Police Department at 601-833-2424 or CrimeStoppers at 601-823-0150. Tips leading to an arrest may be eligible for a cash reward up to $1,000.