Police investigate multiple shootings, urge public vigilance

Published 9:03 am Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Brookhaven police are investigating multiple shootings over a nine-day period in the city.

Top officer Chief Kenneth Collins is urging property owners to have their homes or businesses well-lit and covered by working cameras, and parents to know where their children are, and what they are posting on social media.

Two men were shot on Christmas Eve in a parking lot on North First Street. Twenty-six-year-old Nathaniel Thompson, of Hazlehurst, and Brookhaven resident Everette Cameron, 29, told police they were parking around 11:20 p.m. when they were shot at by an unknown individual or individuals. The injured men drove themselves to another location, where they were both taken to King’s Daughters Medical Center.

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Thompson was transported via helicopter to a trauma center with a shattered hip. Cameron was taken by ambulance with multiple gun shot wounds. Both are reported to be in fair condition.

“We had the car towed for evidence,” Collins said. “While the tow truck driver was in route with the vehicle, two females flagged him down and stopped him. One jumped up on the back of the wrecker and took weapons out of the car.”

The two women — Shamekia Redd, 23, and Shafara Richardson, 26 — were each arrested and charged with obstruction of justice.

“That vehicle was crime scene evidence,” the chief said. “They had no right to stop the wrecker and remove evidence from a vehicle that had been impounded by the police department to be processed in a crime. We want people to know anytime you take part in trying to hide or conceal or obstruct an investigation, we will charge you. So it’s best just to tell the truth.”

On Tuesday, Dec. 27, at approximately 7:32 p.m., two 16-year-olds suffered gun shot wounds at a home on Henry Myers Street. All shots apparently came from inside the house, where the weapons were also located, Collins said.

“The two know each other and we believe they shot each other,” he said.

On New Year’s Eve, three people were shot in the Washington Street area. Two women, age 19 and 21, were driving on Washington Street when they saw Brandon Smith walking with a group of boys. Smith began shooting into their car and both girls received minor injuries.

“Brandon had been posting threats to them on Instagram,” Collins said. “We are looking for him in connection with shooting inside the vehicle. Anyone hiding Brandon or providing him a place to stay, they will be charged with harboring a fugitive, obstruction of justice. If you hide him from police, we are going to charge you, because your actions of preventing us from arresting him may cause him to hurt someone else while on the run.”

A 15-year-old was also shot in the shoulder around the same area and time, the chief said. It was not yet known if the events were connected.

A 17-year-old was shot on Jan. 1 on Howard Road, but is “doing fine,” according to Collins.

The chief said a group of individuals who were in jail recently but now are out appears to be responsible for much of the recent violence. Parents need to be aware of who their children are on social media, no matter how they may act otherwise, Collins advised. Parents may do their best to raise their children, but can still be unaware of what they are doing or who they are associating with.

“For the most part, our kids are going to school, working hard, got jobs, doing good. But you’ve got this few who are determined to be gangsters and criminals, doing things they don’t have to do,” Collins said. “They’re making threats against other people, aligning themselves with different gangs, taking pictures with big guns, so you need to know what your child is doing on social media because their actions can and will bring death or harm to someone in your family.”

Collins again pleaded with property owners to install surveillance cameras, or update existing cameras; and to make sure their property is well-lit at night. Cameras can testify when people are afraid or unwilling to do so, he said, and should be installed before crimes take place. He pointed to the success of cameras installed by the Brookhaven Housing Authority in the Cloverdale community. Crime has dropped by half since their installation, and several other crimes have been solved as a result, Collins said. BHA and the police department are working to get other areas equipped, as well. The only cost to the city is wi-fi and electricity.

“We have got to stick together to keep our community safe. That’s why it’s so important to get these cameras up and functioning. We shouldn’t wait around for something bad to happen to take action now. It’s something we can do and I don’t know why we’re still waiting around for something bad to happen next.

“These cameras are not the solution, but they will be a great help in locking these criminals up. Keep your homes well lit at night. Find out where the dark places are on your home. Cameras are pretty reasonable now, and every home or property owner should make sure it’s well lit and get your cameras functional. It’s a big part in bringing these criminals to justice for people who are fearful or flat out refusing to testify.”

It will take work and lots of effort from “the whole city,” Collins said.

“Law enforcement is doing all we can, working extremely long hours and large amounts of overtime, trying to keep everyone safe,” he said.

The city’s curfew went into effect Dec. 31/Jan. 1, and the city has laws on the books to address issues such as holding parents accountable for the actions of their children.

“Always remember that this is our home and this is our city. It’s a good city,” Collins said. “We need to do things now for our kids and their children to still have a good city.”