Recent shootings, fights in Blytheville thought to be gang related

BLYTHEVILLE, AR (KAIT) – Several fights and shootings involving teens from Sunday night may be gang related, according to Blytheville police.

Police say they responded to seven reports from Blytheville residents about shots fired and fights erupting in the streets between 8:15 and 10 p.m.

After the violent Sunday night, residents are gearing up to take back their neighborhoods.

"Sitting idle, nothing is going to get done," said Bishop Randy Crenshaw, founder of Stop the Violence prayer breakfasts in Blytheville.

Crenshaw is one of many planning to respond with peace to the violence that happened in the city Sunday night. "There's so much violence going on in our little small community now, being a community down from 18,000 to 15,000 people, and the violence is just running rampant."

Crenshaw started hosting prayer breakfasts three years ago at his church, God's Holy Temple, every three months to pray for young people and the city. "It starts with prayer. I believe God will give us the tools we need to combat the violence," he said. "That is really for only inside of the building. The work is actually outside."

Police said the trouble started at Williams Park around 8:15 p.m. Healing in the Hood member Coby Gillespie said a people were gathered at the park for a community event.

"They were having a peaceful function. There was music, and food, and people was just loving on each other and getting along up until that point."

"This park is very significant in African American history, African American culture here in Blytheville," Gillespie said. "Sonny Cartwright Williams gave his life fighting for our freedom. So, this park is in his memory and his honor, not to come up and everybody get here and start acting crazy."

Police said within a two-hour span, they received several calls about incidents about juveniles involved in shootings and fights in the streets in residential areas.

Police are investigating what Healing in the Hood founder Bebe Gillespie believes was a turf war.

"You got people claiming this street and claiming that street. I'm a (Gangster Disciple), and a I'm a Blood, and I'm a Crip, when all that's doing is keeping our young people divided. When you've got a grandmother on the east side and you are from the west side, and you can't go see her without somebody shooting at you, or you got an uncle on the west side and you from the east side, and you can't go, that's stupidity."

The last call to police was in the area of Cherry and Lake Street where they found a 16-year-old and two 17-year-olds with gun shot wounds. Gillespie said Blytheville police are doing their jobs, but they cannot do it alone.

"We're trying to come up with an action plan where we as a people could police our own neighborhoods or take control of our own neighborhoods."

Blytheville Police Chief Ross Thompson said the acts of violence are not believed to be random "as many of the offenders and victims have known local street gang affiliations and criminal histories. We anticipate making several arrests soon."

Thompson also says that with the high call volume during those hours, other incidents received delayed responses. He also says this "was unavoidable as the more serious calls with injuries take a priority over property calls."

Police responded the following list of seven reports from Blytheville residents about shots fired and fights erupting in the streets between 8:15 and 10 p.m.:

8:15 p.m.: Officers say first received a call to 1025 S.
Lilly where a mother said her son had been assaulted and is believed to have occurred with a large group of teens in Williams Park.

8:20 p.m.: A call came through for the area of Cherry and Lake Street in reference to a large group of teens fighting and a report of a gun. While several officers responded, no reports were filed.  Officers were on scene for several minutes clearing the area.

8:45 p.m.: Police were on scene at the 1200 block of East Ash Street in reference to a street fight. One person was detained, no reports were filed, and no arrests were made.

9:24 p.m.: Shots are fired near Franklin and Davis Streets. Officers arrive a few minutes later to find out 24-year-old Dontario Jones, of Osceola, had been at 117 east Kentucky. Medical staff took Jones to the Med in Memphis where he was treated and released.

9:31 p.m.: Officers are dispatched to 1217 Denny where Debra
Daniels said she was shot at, but received injuries "not consistent" with a gunshot.

9:39 p.m.: Police were called back to Lake and Cherry Streets where a 16-year-old and two 17-year-olds were shot. One teen was taken to the Great River Medical Center in Blytheville and was later released. The other two were taken to the Med in Memphis—one was treated and released and the other is in stable condition.

10 p.m.: The driver of a vehicle thought to be involved in the earlier shooting(s) fled from officers on foot after they found his car. Twenty-four-year-old Terrance Miller, of Blytheville, was arrested and faces DWI, fleeing and other charges. Miller's car was towed.

Healing in the Hood Anti-Violence Events:

Town Meeting

Walker Park


1 p.m.

Teen Summit

Wallace Center


6 p.m.

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