What’s happening? Seven days, seven shootings, five deaths in South Mississippi

Friday night's deadly shooting in Ocean Springs marked the seventh shooting in seven days...
Friday night's deadly shooting in Ocean Springs marked the seventh shooting in seven days across South Mississippi, and the fifth fatality. Most of the shootings involved teenagers.(WLOX)
Published: May. 6, 2023 at 12:51 PM CDT
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SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - As news spread about a deadly shooting in Ocean Springs, a common response on social media was, “What’s happening?”

A 19-year-old was killed and six others were injured at Friday’s Cinco de Mayo party at The Scratch Kitchen bar and restaurant in downtown Ocean Springs. It happened in a busy area for nightlife, and a spot that has seen violence before.

But it also marked the seventh shooting in seven days across South Mississippi, and the fifth fatality. Most of the shootings involved teenagers.

Just hours before shots rang out in downtown Ocean Springs, people gathered in Diamondhead to remember the victims of a deadly shooting at a prom afterparty in Bay St. Louis. That shooting happened less than a week earlier and starts our seven-day timeline. Two teens from Hancock High School died, and four others were injured. The suspected gunman is 19.

Jacqueline Gordon lost her grandson, De’Arreis Smith, in the Bay St. Louis shooting. She knows the pain loved ones are feeling in the aftermath of recent violence.

“Our hearts ache because of the senseless crimes and the mass shootings. We can’t emphasize that enough. Our hearts ache because they should be here with us. They had promising futures, both of them,” Gordon said of her grandson and his friend, Haley Stamper, who was also killed.

The same night as the prom party killing, an argument in Gulfport over the sale of a gaming console ended with one person being shot and a 17-year-old charged with attempted robbery.

One day later, a pregnant teen was shot in the head at an apartment in Gulfport. Both Kamori Lake and her unborn child died. Another teen, age 15, was charged with murder. Three other teens were charged as accomplices, the youngest of them was just 13.

A Tuesday traffic stop on Hewes Avenue between Hwy 90 and Second Street ended in gunfire.

Gulfport Police Chief Adam Cooper said, “As the officers approached the vehicle, they encountered the armed suspect who was the driver of the vehicle. He presented a firearm, shots were fired and the suspect was struck.”

As officers in Gulfport dealt with that situation, law enforcement officers in George County were in the middle of a 16-hour standoff with a man making terroristic threats.

George County deputies and the Jackson County SWAT team were outside the home overnight. It ended early Wednesday when the man left his home, then pointed and fired a weapon at officers. Officers responded, shooting and killing the 38-year-old man.

Friday morning, Laurel Police were called to a shooting outside Howard Industries. Their investigation would lead them to Stone County, where the 20-year-old suspected gunman was found inside a Perkinston home on Wire Road.

Howard Industries ended up shutting down its operations for the day in response to the gunfire.

That brings us back to Ocean Springs and the deadly shooting at The Scratch Kitchen, the seventh in seven days.

As you read through this list of violent acts, there isn’t one one clear answer for how to solve the problem. In fact, many will say we can’t even agree on what the problems are. But it is clear that South Mississippians need to start having real conversations about what’s happening in our communities. The last seven days have shown that the price of doing nothing is too high.

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