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Sharing crime video could help solve case

A few weeks ago, reports of shots fired in downtown Natchez began circulating on social media on the night of Saturday, Jan. 11.

Natchez police responded to the scene but could not find any evidence of a shooting that was initially reported at Jefferson and Pearl streets.

Meanwhile, people were posting about it on social media and discussing it at church on Sunday morning.

Police said they responded to the scene but since no evidence was found they ruled it “unfounded,” which means officers could not find evidence of a shooting, including shell casings, a person who saw it, a suspect or a victim.

People obviously heard the shots, but it is not always easy to determine where a sound is coming from. Think of the last time you heard an ambulance siren as you were traveling in your car.

Until you actually see the vehicle with lights flashing, it is impossible to tell where the sound is coming from much less in what direction the vehicle is traveling.

Therefore, the shots fired was just another incidence of reported shots fired, which are included in the police reports almost every day most of which are “unfounded” and could be written off as kids playing with firecrackers, a vehicle backfiring or someone actually shooting a weapon.

The people who heard the shots on Jan. 11, however, were certain they heard shots fired, as many as 14 to be exact.

Fast-forward 15 hours and a victim finally came forward to say they had been shot at while traveling on High Street at Wall Street, not Pearl and Jefferson streets as originally reported.

Somewhere in the interim, someone scoured their personal video surveillance cameras and found actual footage of the shooting.

There it was. A car pulls up to the intersection and stops. Another car pulls up beside the first car and starts shooting into the vehicle as the first car turns right on to Wall Street and the second car turns left, the wrong direction on the one-way Wall Street and continues shooting more than 10 shots.

Wow! The shots fired report is longer unfounded.

Video surveillance works. Crime caught on camera. Proof!

For some reason, however, the owner of the video was told not to show the video to anyone. The owner, however, had already shared the video with people before he turned it over to city officials who asked him not to share it anymore.

The Natchez Democrat finally got a copy of the video and posted it on our website for the world to see.

What good is the video evidence if it is not shared? Isn’t the crime more likely to be solved if more people are able to see it?

Natchez had a 75% drop in its murder rate in the past year in large part because of surveillance video cameras being placed throughout the city.

Criminals are less likely to commit crimes if they know they could be caught on film and, therefore, arrested.

Thank goodness no one was killed in the Jan. 11 shooting, and I hope someone will be arrested and prosecuted soon for shooting inside the city limits.

Thanks to a citizen’s video cameras, no longer is the incident an “unfounded” report of shots fired, but it is now a crime caught on camera.

If you recognize the suspects in the video, contact the Natchez Police Department at 601-445-5565.

Scott Hawkins is editor of The Natchez Democrat. Reach him at 601-445-3540 or scott.hawkins@natchezdemocrat.com.

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