WEST POINT, Miss. (WCBI) – The West Point Police Department put out a public service announcement Monday on the increasing number of shootings involving teens and young adults.
“We’ve had an uptick of shootings in the community, dealing mainly with juveniles,” says Assistant Police Chief Kennedy Meaders.
West Point PD says it recovered an AR-15, a semiautomatic 9 mm and a painted air rifle during three separate incidents over the weekend. Police say the firearms are involved in ongoing investigations.
While investigators say there have been no injuries so far, with bullets hitting houses and cars, they worry it could only be a matter of time.
“A lot of times they’ll say it’s for protection, but juveniles with guns are inherently dangerous,” says Clay County Sheriff’s Department Investigator Stephen Young. “They don’t have the training.”
Assistant Chief Meaders says many of these shootings are not random.
“I think it’s specific,” he says. “They know where they’re going. They know who they want to get to. ”
But while Assistant Chief Meaders believes several of these shootings involve two opposing factions, he says he wouldn’t classify it as gang violence.
“It may be a loose group of kids that live in the same neighborhoods, they get into it with somebody else in another different part of the neighborhood, and they just want to pick up a gun and kind of prove that‘ I’m better than you, ‘”the assistant chef says.
In their video, West Point Police urge parents to make sure they know what their children might be doing.
“We know they go out on the weekends and stuff like that, but when they’re out carrying weapons and shooting people, shooting into cars, then that’s a whole different situation that we have to deal with,” Assistant Chief Meaders says.
Assistant Chief Meaders says officers recovered the air gun, with its orange tip painted black, during a traffic stop.
“With law enforcement, this is not a toy to us,” he says. “If you pull this weapon, then you’re going to have an officer-involved shooting.”
The assistant chief says they’ve gotten complaints of someone shooting stores and people with air guns, but he believes these incidents are separate from the actual shootings.
“I think it’s more of a game thing with the air guns,” he says. “But with these real weapons, it’s no game with these.”
Assistant Chief Meaders says the department is stepping up traffic stops and increasing officer visibility in popular areas to try and cut down on these shooting incidents before the summer.
He says Police Chief Avery Cook is also working to develop a youth outreach program.