Late Sunday night, Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba sent out a statement addressing several murders that roiled the capital city over the weekend—from a preacher killed in the Washington Addition to a teenager killed in a Walmart parking lot. In his message, the mayor reiterated his and the Jackson Police Department's common, and usually correct, response that police are "incapable of stopping these instances before they take place," adding that, "They don’t have the tools to enter the minds and stop these people, these acts of violence before they take place."
On Sunday about 9 a.m., WLBT reported, three men are believed to have killed Anthony Finch Longino, 63, as he opened the doors of New Bethany Church on Hill Avenue in the Washington Addition, a community roiled by drug addiction, poverty and controversial policing practices since Frank Melton's mentees used to hang out at the now-closed Dairy Bar nearby.
This morning, the Jackson Police Department announced the arrest of three suspects—with all charged with capital murder. Marquez Hamilton, 22, confessed to killing Longino, JPD said, saying he and his friends had plans to rob him. Three warrants were issued for others involved in the shooting.
On Sunday night, WLBT reported, Calphrion Vardman, 19, died in the parking lot of the Walmart on Greenway Drive near Highway 18 in south Jackson. JPD have three suspects, 28-year-old Terry Haley, 27-year-old Brian Williams, and 27-year-old Brandon Williams—in custody for that shooting.
The JFP's 'Preventing Violence' Series
A full archive of the JFP's "Preventing Violence" series, supported by grants from the Solutions Journalism Network. Photo of Zeakyy Harrington by Imani Khayyam.
The murders came after a spike in homicides in Jackson in 2018 and the City's participation in a controversial federal crime strategy that did not yield positive results on the local murder rate last year. Mayor Lumumba will host a press conference about the violence in City Hall today at 2:30 p.m. The City recently announced the state's first credible-messenger trainings, but only two candidates are in place to date, and the training has not begun.
The mayor's statement in full:
“Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of those who died due to senseless acts of violence today and our continued prayers and support go out to all of the families who have suffered at the hands of senseless violence in this city. We will continue to do all that we can to stop this pressing issue of violence in our communities. Our police department has already captured persons of interest in both cases today. While our police department does all that it can to solve these crimes after they take place, in fact, doing so at a rate better than the national average, our police department is incapable of stopping these instances before they take place. They don’t have the tools to enter the minds and stop these people, these acts of violence before they take place. This requires the engagement of every person in this city from the mayor, to the community leader, to the neighbor. We must focus not only on the what, but the why, understanding that the conditions which lead to this criminal activity must be addressed first in order to prevent these circumstances from taking place. We look forward to addressing this issue tomorrow during a press conference to speak to the issues and the concerns that the community may have.”
Read more about evidence-based violence prevention at jacksonfreepress.com/preventingviolence.
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