Waynesboro police say crime increase is due to gang violence

Waynesboro police investigating increase in crime

WAYNESBORO, MS (WDAM) - The Waynesboro Police Department said a recent increase of crime within city limits is due to gang violence.

Chief Investigator Don Hopkins said since March 29, they’ve worked four shootings. Two of the shootings resulted in the deaths of 34-year-old Kamarcus West, shot on April 21, and 22-year-old Dre Charles, shot on April 26.

On April 27, WPD investigated a shooting involving four juveniles that turned into a police chase. No one was injured in that shooting.

“We know that it’s gang-related,” said Hopkins. “But, I feel like those gang are going to continue back and forth until the point they actually harm innocent bystanders in the communities that they’re acting up in.”

Hopkins said they plan on making arrests regarding the April 21 shooting in the very near future.

He said regarding the shooting on April 26, they have a person of interest but there have been no arrests.

Hopkins and Police Chief Holt Ross said no one has come forward with information regarding any of the incidents.

“Our communities are only as safe as the people that live in them,” said Hopkins. “If we cannot get the cooperation to end this, it’s going to continue and heaven forbid that we have some innocent child be shot and killed."

Hopkins and Ross said the shooting started March 28 with a stabbing.

“We had an incident of a stabbing at the Waynesboro apartments,” said Hopkins. “....That led to the following morning an incident of another shooting, which was Friday the 29, which led to an additional shooting of the same incident at another location, alleged.”

Hopkins said there were two males that suffered minor injuries from the incidents.

Kaeshawn Damonta Turner was charged in the March 29 shooting with aggravated assault and felony possession of a firearm.

However, Chief Holt Ross said since then, they’ve worked a shooting almost every weekend.

“Based on the past three years, we’ve not really had a lot of gang activity...” said Hopkins. “But, due to certain ones of certain elements moving back into our jurisdiction, this is where this has stemmed from. We’ve got certain individuals that are out of jail and this started once they got out of jail."

Ross and Hopkins said they are working extensive hours to solve the crimes and even putting more officers on patrol.

“We need the assistance from the community,” said Hopkins. “That is 100 percent ensuring that we effectively arrest the proper people and the proper people are charged with the right crimes.”

Ross said he wants people in the community to know they are there to protect and serve.

“Don’t feel like you can’t trust us because you can,” said Ross. “If you don’t want to talk to us in public, you can call one of us and we’ll come meet you. Whatever we need to do to help you out, that’s what we’re willing to do.”

Ross said due to lack of information, they are unsure if all the incidents are related, but they’re not ruling it out.

If you have any information regarding any of the shootings, WPD encourages you to contact the department at 601-735-3192.

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