WINONA – A Campbell Street resident is urging the city and the community to do more to crack down on random gunfire in her neighborhood.
Leanne Purnell told the board that since mid-April, there has been six or more random shots fired on Campbell Street and the surrounding area. Many of these occur late at night and in the wee hours of the morning, but one occurred just before 8 a.m.
“We made an arrest on that incident,” Winona Chief of Police Tommy Bibbs told the board.
Bibbs said the person responsible was not only fined for firing a gun in the city limits, but he was required to forfeit his weapon to the court.
Bibbs said that he went back and looked at the past 105 days, and the police department received 17 calls reporting gunfire in the city. Of these, 17, 10 were determined creatable. Of the remaining seven, five were determined to be a car backfire or fireworks, and two of those reporting the gunfire did not want to speak to the police further than the initial report. Only two arrests were made.
Purnell said she believes many of these gunshots are people firing guns into the air.
“They are shooting up in the air, well, bullets have come down,” Purnell said.
Purnell said she wishes her neighbors would start calling the police and reporting incidents of random gunfire.
“A closed mouth can’t be fed,” Purnell said. “It has got to stop.”
Bibbs said in so many cases, people do not want to get involved in a police investigation, but without citizens working with the police, it is very hard for officers to do their jobs.
“It is going to take the community,” Bibbs said.
Bibbs said of the 10 legitimate calls received about random gunfire, only two arrests were made, and that is due to the efforts of a private citizen giving a description of the shooter.
“If you don’t say nothing, nothing is going to be done,” Bibbs said.
Bibbs said citizens who witness a violation of the law must be willing to sign an affidavit in court pressing charges of discharging a firearm inside the city limits.
“It is your obligation to report a crime to the police,” Bibbs said. “If you want this to stop in your community, it’s up to you to step up.”
In other city business:
• The city voted to begin condemnation proceedings on the old flower shop building on Sterling Street, behind the Winona Post Office.
• The board voted to look into installing a speed bump on the west end of Campbell Street, following a request by Purnell. Purnell said there are a good number of children in the area, and with speeding vehicles, the street has become unsafe.
• The board voted to purchase netting for the Winona Recreational Park to catch foul balls before they strike someone sitting or walking around the concession stand area. The cost of the net is $1,343.72.
• The board voted to purchase two 15-foot, three-tiered aluminum bleachers for the Powel Street park at a cost of $2,270. Park Director Mike Narmour asked the board if he could demolish old bleachers near the baseball field and a shed which has fallen into disrepair. Mayor Jerry Flowers said the city did not own that park, the Winona Community Improvement Club owns the property. Flowers said he would contact Tela Wilson Collins, who is a longtime member of the club.
• Narmour said two of his park employees will rotate between the Powell Street Park and the Winona Recreational Park in order to ease the burden on Tee Humphreys, the new Powell Street Park director. Flowers said next year, the city could looking into hiring additional help for Powell Street park.
• The board began the condemnation process on 709 Herod Drive in the Westland Heights subdivision.
• The board purchased their regular ad in the Winona Booster Club Media Guide.
• The board hired Cassandra Evans as the city’s new custodian.
• The board unanimously voted to advertise for the Powell Street Park concession stand management.