Tallahassee police, community leaders search for solutions after deadly weekend shootings

Article Courtesy of  Channel 27 WTXL ABC Tallahassee

By Jada Williams

Published July 29, 2020


TALLAHASSEE — Tallahassee Police Department is looking for more cooperation with the community as community leaders beg for a stop to the violence.

Calls on both sides come after TPD says hundreds of people witnessed a shooting over the weekend, but few are coming forward.

Local Home Owner Associations reached out to TPD asking for more help after a string of crimes, ranging from noise complaints to shootings.

Officers found a man fatally shot in the University Courtyards apartments on South Adams on Friday.

Just nine hours later, there was a shooting at Rattler Gas Station on West Orange and Springhill. Police say a crowd of hundreds of people were present at that shooting, yet many refuse to give their account.

As TPD works to address what they're calling pop up gatherings, community members are asking for a stop to the violence.

HOAs in the area are working the police, looking for ways to curb the crime, and even hosting community conversations.

Tallahassee Police Department is looking for more cooperation with the community as community leaders beg for a stop to the violence.

Tallahassee commissioner Curtis Richardson is the president of one of those HOA's.

"There's a family out there grieving and it breaks my heart that they can't get closure," said Richardson. "And out of all those people there, there's no one willing to step forward and provide evidence to police investigators at this point. "

TPD says with nightclubs and bars closed, many people are turning to areas like parking lots just to hang out.

They say they're trying to patrol those areas, but legally they can only do something if they're responding to a crime or if a private business allows them.

Dianne Jefferson says she loves her southside community.

"It's one of the older neighborhoods in this community," said Jefferson. "A lot of retired people, a lot of educators. It feels lovely from that standpoint."

But lately, living there has felt bittersweet.

"What we've noticed is there is an increase in crime, in terms of hearing from the neighbors," Jefferson said. "There's been a break-in and everyone is banding together to watch out for each other."

Not too far away, Richardson is feeling that same disappointment.

Richardson says his daughter was close friends with Joshua Purcell, the teen killed a couple of weeks ago at a nearby church.

"The killing at the church was 20 yards from the front door," said Richardson. "And just this past week, my wife's car was burglarized for the second time sitting in our driveway. It's personal for me."

A continued streak, many less than a mile away from home led Richardson to revisit a plan he and his wife made decades earlier.

"When my wife and I built our home we had some problems in our neighborhood with crime," Richardson said. "We reached out to police and formed a partnership."

They saw crime go down and they're hoping to work together with law enforcement now to make it happen again.

"You have a community that is distrustful," said Jefferson. "And even that is a reason for everyone to get together and discuss those things."

Meanwhile, community members say they will continue to work towards a more peaceful community

On Monday, TPD announced they arrested a man in Alabama connected to Friday's deadly shooting at the University Courtyard apartments.

TPD is still looking for witnesses to come forward.