New dawn on horizon for Sunset Subdivision

OKTIBBEHA COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI) – In recent years, the Sunset community in Oktibbeha County has seen more than its share of criminal activity, including a tragic murder just last week.

But it hasn’t always been this way.

A man who has called Sunset home for decades said there was a time when violence in the neighborhood was rare.

“People, when they think of Sunset, they think it’s just a bad community. It’s really not. Yea, you gone have the ones that drift off a little bit. But tell me what community that don’t,” said Eric Young, Sunset resident.

Eric Young has lived in the Sunset Subdivision of Oktibbeha County since 1988.

“It was awesome. Growing up here, we had a lot of people who cared,” said Young.

Young was asked if he could describe in one word what the neighborhood is like now.

“It’s a challenge,” he said.

Just in a six-year span, multiple arrests have been made in the Sunset community, from murder and shootings to sexual battery and drug trafficking.

But Young is sure the perpetrators aren’t even from the neighborhood.

“When they speak of Sunset, pull up all the crimes. Pull them up. They’re not from here. This is an area that’s out of the way, not in town, that they feel like they can walk around with their pistols. They can do what they want, but in reality, Sunset is really not as bad as they make it,” said Young.

Oktibbeha County Sheriff Shank Phelps agrees. But when a crime occurs, he still needs help from the people who live there.

“You’re right. A lot of the problems come from outside, people coming over to Oktibbeha County are coming over to the Sunset subdivision. You know as Sheriff of the county, my job is to ensure the safety and well-being of the citizens of this county. That’s what I’m elected to do and that’s what I’m going to do. But I can’t do it by myself,” said Phelps. “I want the citizens to know, usually when we come to talk to them, their name has come up somewhere. We’re just not picking somebody up out of the blue. If you know something, be honest and do the right thing because people are losing their lives.”

Last week during an interview with WCBI, Phelps sent out a stark warning.

“If we come asking questions about this shooting incident, people need to be honest and tell the truth. Because if they don’t, they are going to end up picking up charges. We’ve got to do something about this gun violence. Something’s got to come to a halt,” said Phelps.

Young said he doesn’t quite agree with the sheriff’s approach.

“If a tragedy happens inside of a house and the sheriff or whatever, the police department come to knock on the door like we will come arrest or get whoever know something, I feel like this here: If that crime happened in that house and it’s a few people in that house, that story should get summed up within that house. The neighbors shouldn’t have to say anything cause everybody in that house should know what’s going on. The neighbor probably heard a gunshot but did you see who pulled the trigger? No. Because you weren’t inside of the residence at the time of that crime going down. Even if you speak on what you heard, it’s not 100% accurate,” said Young.

Phelps said even if you think you saw suspicious activity, the community still needs to come forward without fear of retaliation.

“If you see something wrong, come out and talk. We will protect. It’s our job to protect. And if someone is absolutely scared to come to the police, call Crime Stoppers. Nobody knows the identity of that person. If somebody does give a statement or if somebody does give us information and somebody does say something to them, let us know. There’s a crime for that: intimidating a witness. I don’t mind charging. We’ve got to stick together to solve this problem,” said Phelps.

For 24/7 news and updates, follow us on Facebook and X

Categories: Crime, Featured, Local News