Hub City homicides on the rise

By DAVID GUSTAFSON,

With nearly four more months to go, 2018 is already one of the deadliest years on record in Hattiesburg when it comes to recorded murders.

Friday’s shooting death of Michael Paul McLendon, 38, was the eighth homicide of the year. Since 1985, there have only been five years with as many murders including 2014 when 13 were recorded, the most ever. The average number is 5.28 per year.

In comparison, 2017 was one of the least-deadly years on record with only three homicides.

Hattiesburg Police Chief Anthony Parker said those numbers don’t always paint a complete picture.

“Sometimes people get the misconception that if you have more homicides one year over the other, that the city is spiraling out of control,” he said. “Except that is not accurate. We aren’t seeing a so-called hot area of crime.”

Parker acknowledged the department would prefer to have zero homicides, but noted that a majority of this year’s murders have been isolated incidents related to domestic situations.

“In those cases, police usually don’t get a call until after the fact and there isn’t much help for situations like that.”

Parker said overall crime is down three percent compared to last year and the department is working diligently to continue to improve those numbers.

Having additional officers to help patrol is an important part of the equation, he said.

“Our new recruits that just graduated move our numbers to 104 (police officers) and they will be divided up among all four of shifts which will continue to help our efforts.”

Mayor Toby Barker said public safety continues to be his administration’s highest priority and he commended Parker and his department for their quick work in finding the suspects in all eight cases and charging them appropriately.

“While one homicide is always one too many, it’s important our residents know that all eight cases were situations where the suspect and the victim knew one another,” he said.

Ninety miles north in Jackson, there have been 59 homicides through the same period.  Based on population numbers, that’s nearly twice the amount of murders per capita than Hattiesburg.

 

HUB CITY HOMICIDES BY THE NUMBERS

 

Date: Feb. 8, 2018

Location: 213 Unetta St.

Victim: Jamie Pittman

Suspects: John Roberts Jr., charged with murder; Torriana Lechelle Wesley charged with accessory after the fact.

What Happened: Officers responded to a report of shots fired. An unresponsive white female was discovered at the location and transported to Forrest General Hospital where she was later pronounced dead. Victim and suspect knew one another and had a previous history.

 

Date: March 25, 2018

Location: 1210 Dewey

Victim: Deborah McGee

Suspects: Andrew Presley, charged with first degree murder; Ebony Lambert, charged with hindering.

What Happened:  Officers responded to a report of a deceased black female inside the home. The boyfriend of the victim’s niece was later arrested for the murder.

 

Date: April 5, 2018

Location: 1500 Country Club Road

Victim: Mark Gould

Suspects: Jonathan Jones charged with murder;  Theodore Jones charged with accessory after the fact; Sidney Hosey charged with accessory before the fact; Danielle Blanks, Evelyn Bryant, Maxine Holliman, Michaelle Lumzy, Montrell Holliman, Chris Heidelburg, and Christopher Lee – all charged with conspiracy to commit a felony. Bryant also charged with accessory before the fact.

What Happened: Officers responded to a fight that led to a shooting between neighbors. One black male was pronounced dead at the scene. Both suspect and victim knew one another from the apartment complex. Fight stemmed from previous altercations throughout the day.

 

Date: June 29, 2018

Location: 1818 Broadway Drive

Victim: Antonio Tatum

Suspect: Nicholas Faulkner charged with first degree murder.

What Happened: Officers arrived on scene after a report of a stabbing. One black male was found on the ground in front of a liquor store on Broadway Drive suffering from a stab wound, which came from an altercation with the suspect. Both the suspect and victim knew one another.

 

Date: July 25, 2018

Location: 609 N. 25th Avenue

Victim: Talitha Mack

Suspect: Orean Samuel, charged with first degree murder.

What Happened: Officers responded to a report of a shooting. When officers arrived, they discovered a black female identified as Talitha Mack, suffering from gunshot wounds. Officers apprehended the suspect down the street from the scene of the shooting. The incident stemmed from a domestic altercation.

 

Date: August 11, 2018

Location: 308 East Scooba Street

Victim: Ricky Perkins

Suspect: Shane Ware charged with first degree murder.

What Happened: Officers responded to a report of a shooting and discovered three victims, including two females and a 59-year-old male. The male was later pronounced dead at Forrest General Hospital. All the victims and suspect knew one another and lived in the same residence.

 

Date: August 16, 2018

Location: 108 Breckenridge Drive

Victim: Joel Scott Graves

Suspect: Joel Chad Graves, charged with second degree murder.

What Happened: Officers were dispatched in reference to a shooting and upon arrival, found Joel Chad Graves, the victim’s father, outside the residence. The two had allegedly been fighting with one another and the father was transported to Forrest General Hospital to be treated for his injuries. He was later charged with second degree murder in connection to the shooting.

 

Date: September 7, 2018

Location: 4700 block of Hardy Street

Victim: Michael McLendon

Suspect: Justin Lee Anderson charged with first degree murder.

What Happened: Officers responded to a shooting in the parking lot of a local restaurant. The victim was found with a gunshot wound and was transported to a local hospital, where he later died. Both individuals knew one another, and it appears to have stemmed from an isolated altercation.