Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan and other law enforcement and elected officials gathered in late September, to ask the community to come forward and help them end gun violence in the county.
This was not the Sheriff’s first such appeal to the community; there had been many over the past few years. The catalyst for this latest were three shootings in September that left one man wounded and two people dead – 31-year-old Houston Parker and 14-year-old Kenteyonna Anderson. Investigators say Anderson was shot in the crossfire while trying to leave the area.
In October, the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force arrested 22-year-old Zachary Brooks at a residence near Gulf Beach Highway in Pensacola. Brooks is charged with homicide, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon.
Morgan told the nearly-full conference room that before them is a sheriff who is pleading with the community to take down what he called a “wall of silence” that’s unacceptable for Escambia County.
The meeting also served as the rollout for three new online public service announcements by the ECSO, featuring Pastor Rodney Jones of New World Believer’s Ministries – who himself served prison time. The PSA’s are titled “Take Back Your Streets.”
Escambia County Commissioner Lumon May said that law enforcement takes place after a crime is committed. The key he said, is prevention. May argues that residents in Escambia County and Pensacola have been reactionary when it comes to reporting crime, and it’s time now to become proactive. After the fact, he says, is too late.
The ECSO also took the opportunity to introduce a new Crimestoppers app for smart phones, and remind everyone they can report a crime anonymously by using that, or by calling 433-STOP. Callers are eligible for a cash reward if the tip turns into an arrest and charge in the three recent shootings, or any other case.
All of the speakers appeared to be conveying the same message to the residents of Pensacola and Escambia County: “When it comes to crime and its inherent violence, help us help you.”