STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) – Thursday, city leaders held a town hall in McKee Park to talk with members of the public about their concerns and plans for increased safety in the wake of Tuesday’s drive-by shooting.
Concerned but not outraged is how Mayor Lynn Spruill described the meeting with the public yesterday. She and Ward 2 Alderman Sandra Sistrunk say their discussions were focused on finding solutions and not pointing fingers.
“I had friends and family and neighbors that were out there, ducking and covering and trying to console the kids and the families till they could figure out what was going on,” said Terry Long, who says he was coaching his son’s little league baseball team Tuesday evening at McKee Park.
30 minutes later, the shooting started.
“If I’d have been there, I’d want to protect my kids but I’m also somewhat responsible for all the kids and the boys on the team,” he said.
That’s why Long said it was important for him to attend Thursday’s town hall meeting at the park.
The long list of safety measures the city is already putting in place includes closing down the basketball and tennis court during little league as well as increasing police presence and crowd control at McKee Park.
Sistrunk organized the event to show community members that they are taking action.
“We understand their concerns, we share their concerns,” she said. “And so we wanted to share the information for what we’re doing. Immediately.”
Crowd control in particular is something Sistrunk is focused on, especially since there were reportedly over 100 people gathered around the basketball court leading up to the shooting.
“At the end of the day, it was a crowd control issue,” she said. “It wasn’t a basketball game or a baseball game that was the predicate that created the problem.”
Another potential solution to the issue is creating a system to reserve the courts for events. That would allow them to stay open while also staying safe, which the mayor, Sistrunk and residents all agree is a high priority.
“We’ll know exactly who’s there and understand the size of the crowd that might accompany those additional activities,” Mayor Spruill said.
That way, parents and their kids can get back to enjoying the park.
“Be kids, have fun, play some sports,” Long said.
Without having to worry about dodging bullets.
Sistrunk says their next immediate step is to have security cameras and gates installed in and around McKee Park.