HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Over the past four years, the number of aggravated assaults in the city of Hattiesburg has continued to rise.
With the last few days of November coming up, the Hub City has already recorded 47 aggravated assaults in 2017. Which is roughly a 21 percent increase from the previous year.
"Typically, with the aggravated assaults, what usually happens is its gang on gang violence," said Hattiesburg Police Capt. Branden McLemore. "More than 75 percent is usually a good number to actually accurately show or perceive what the gang violence is."
According to McLemore, and the Hattiesburg Police Crime stats, majority of them are shootings, like drive-by shootings, or gang on gang retaliation.
"When you go to multiple shootings in a night, I'll just use an example, we had four in a night, you take an opportunity of a random stranger victim, innocent bystander, taking on one of those actual shots," said McLemore.
Breaking down the numbers:
2013- 16 aggravated assaults
2014- 24 aggravated assaults
2015- 31 aggravated assaults
2016- 44 aggravated assaults
2017- 47 aggravated assaults as of November 26th
McLemore said the department has been increasing their saturation details, as well as undercover patrols in efforts to deter crime.
"We try to bring it all the way back to the root of the problem and typically, probably more than 60 to 75 percent its always because of a girl," said McLemore. "You either have a girl with one gang and dating someone that then goes to another guy, or gang member after a breakup and then it starts an argument, that leads to a fight, that then leads to a shooting."
Despite the cause or reasoning behind the shootings, McLemore said the suspects are getting younger.
"Typically, what we are discovering, it's not our older gang members that are causing our problems, it's the young ones that are trying to take the place of those," said McLemore. "In the past we have tried every avenue of putting certain gang members away that are responsible for those aggravated assaults and drive-bys."
12th Circuit Court District, Forrest-Perry County Assistant District Attorney, DeCarlo Hood said the gang violence is one of their offices top priorities.
"Aggravated assaults, and more specifically gang related aggravated assaults is one of the top priority areas for our office," said Hood. "We try to work closely with law enforcement and make sure that those cases and those individuals that choose to commit those type of crimes be brought to justice in a quick manner."
McLemore said they are here to set an example, and try to lead people away from violence.
"What we're trying to do is basically set an example," said McLemore. "If you choose this lifestyle, if you choose this way, you're either going to end up 6 foot under or behind bars."