By Brian Livingston
Meridian police responded to a dozen calls of shots fired in Meridian Monday night but no injuries were reported.
Since Friday, the Meridian Police Department has logged more than than 40 calls into Central Dispatch of shots fired. Of those 40 calls, only six were confirmed cases of a gun actually being fired.
"We are doing all we can to respond to each and every call and to figure out which ones are legitimate shootings and which ones aren't," Meridian Police Chief James Lee said. "We haven't had anyone hit in a while but it is coming. Someone, and I hope it isn't a child, is going to get hit. If it is a child, we are going to be blamed for it. I feel it coming."
Lee said the responsibility for doing something about these shootings partially lies on the residents of Meridian. Lee said he responded to the shooting calls Monday night along with the officers.
"When we arrive there are 30 people outside who heard and saw the shooting and yet they can't tell us anything about who it was that pulled the trigger," Lee said. "Until the residents, and again I think it will take something like a child getting hurt before they decide enough is enough, but the residents need to step up and give us the information we need to get these people off the streets."
Monday night bullets struck three homes, went through the outer walls and penetrated interior rooms. In each case there were people inside the home, although no one was injured.
Nine bullets entered one house located in the 200 block of 47th Avenue. Two other homes were struck by one bullet each. Those bullets were of a larger caliber than those that struck the first home.
"In many of these cases, we know who is doing it," Lee said. "But we can't arrest him until we get people who are strong enough to stand up."
Lee said it is frustrating for police when citizens don't give them information needed to make arrests.
"We know the residents know who is doing this," Lee said. "We can't force them to tell us. But they know the person by name, by the kind of car they drive, and who his friends are. But they aren't telling us."
Lee said he is forced to change tactics. He wouldn't go into details on what the patrols will be doing only to say he is in constant contact with his shift commanders.
"We are talking about what is working and not working. Then we come up with another plan in order to tighten up the patrols," Lee said.
Lee also said he is talking with other agencies in other parts of the state and region to see what they are doing about the same type of problem. He said he is willing to make changes on the fly based on what the city is experiencing.
But what Lee said he saw for himself Monday night was a behavior that is disturbing.
"The residents I observed were used to this," Lee said of the shootings. "They let their kids play in the yard after dark and then let them stay after the shooting to see what happens next. These children are growing up in this environment and I can't understand why, as parents, the residents don't do something about it."
Lee said if that sounded like he was calling out the public, then so be it.
"Hey, we are doing everything in our power to stop this, to protect people," Lee said. "I ask the residents of Meridian, 'Are you doing all you can?'"