Meridian Star

November 16, 2012

Residents urged to attend meeting

By Brian Livingston / blivingston@themeridianstar.com
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     Residents concerned about crime in Meridian are encouraged to attend a neighborhood watch meeting Saturday.

    Al Willis, president of the 36th Avenue Neighborhood Watch, said the meeting will take place Saturday at the Meridian Activities Center beginning at 11 a.m.

    Willis said presidents and leaders of other neighborhood watch programs across the city are expected to attend. Willis hopes residents from throughout the city will show up for the meeting.

    "Fear is what is keeping people inside their homes and not going out to do what they want," Willis said. "We need to do whatever we can as a community to stop this violence and lend a hand to the police so they can get these people in jail. We need to send a message and I mean a strong message."

    So far this year Meridian has been rocked by seven murders, drive-by shootings and aggravated assaults.

    As recently as Wednesday night a home located at 315 60th Avenue was struck by gunfire. No one who was inside the home at around 8 p.m. was hit when bullets were fired through the front windows.

    The incident follows on the heels of a fatal shooting Saturday night when Terrianda Collins was gunned down while standing outside a home on 15th Avenue. Meridian Police Department detectives are still searching for those responsible for Collins' death.

    Willis said neighborhood watches are an effective way to help combat the violence.

    "Neighborhood watches can work if the people in the organization are vigilant," said Willis. "I don't have all the answers but it is proven neighborhood watches do work and we are determined to do whatever we can to take back our communities."

    Bobby Smith, Meridian councilman for Ward 5, said he has been a member of neighborhood watches and agrees they are effective. He said he will be at the meeting Saturday to lend his support. But Smith also said it is disturbing the amount of violent crime that has surfaced in Meridian this year.    

    Sheila Adams, who resides two houses down from the gray brick home that was hit by several bullets Wednesday, said she never thought that she would be on the front lines of this kind of problem.

    "These are things I never would've thought would happen in Meridian," Adams said Thursday afternoon. "This kind of stuff happens in larger cities. Not here."

    Adams, who is a pastor at New Growth Ministries, was in church last night when the shots rang out near her home. She said she and her husband, Thomas Adams, are determined not to let anyone scare them into staying in their homes. But on the other hand, she said the guns and bullets are real and these people who do the shooting are bold.

    "They don't have any respect for anyone," Adams said. "I see the police patrol through our neighborhood but they can't just sit at the end of the street all night and day."