PRINCEVILLE — Recent gang-related violence has prompted Princeville Police Chief Joey Petway to ramp up patrols and ask citizens for assistantance with stopping what he called the "nonsense."
Within the last two months, law enforcement officers have responded to a dozen shots-fired calls and an assault that left two victims with serious injuries. Bullets from at least two incidents reportedly landed inside occupied residences. No one was injured in the incidents. The most recent call occurred Sunday at the intersection of Beasly and Church Streets, where officers are investigating the shooting of a Sudden Link Cable line.
Petway said the violence appears to be among two different gangs (Blood) in Princeville who are trying to solidify their turf by shooting in the air.
"It's their way of marking their turf," said Petway about the shooting. "This nonsense must stop before someones get seriously hurt. I would hate to see anybody hurt, especially an innocent bystander."
On Aug. 19, a teenager narrowly escaped gun shots while he was sitting on his porch on Main Street. After he heard gunshots that were apparently fired from across the street from his house, the teen reportedly dropped on the porch and crawled into house for safety. An investigation revealed that several bullets landed in the house. Three other people, including a 4-year-old girl, were said to be in the house when the incident occurred. No one was injured and no arrest has been made.
In an unrelated case, Petway did make several arrests in a assault-related gang activity on Sept. 4. According to reports, Daiquan Hopkins and Adrian Brown, both of Princeville, were walking on Snowden Street when Kevin Jones, 19, Quentin Howell, 22, Markell Howell, 20, and Demota White, 17 met them. A confrontation took place and the four assailants allegedly cut the victims several times with box cutters.
Hopkins and Brown were taken to Vidant Edgecombe Hospital where they were treated. Due to the nature of the incident, Vidant alerted the Princeville Police Department.
"We went to the hospital to investigate, thinking the victims were going to release the names so that we could make an arrest, but it didn't happen that way," Petway said. "They would not tell us what happened. That's part of the gang. They don't like telling on each other, but retaliating instead. We don't want that because innocent people could be hurt."
In an effort to prevent a retaliation incident, Petway did an all-out investigation which provided information for charges to be brought against the four suspects. Jones, Q. Howell, M. Howell and White were charged with assault with a deadly weapon with the intent to inflict serious injuries.
"This is just one case we have solved and we're working harder than anyone can imagine to solve others," Petway said. "We are actively working with police agencies in the surrounding areas to help us with gang-related problems. But our hands are tied. We can't do it alone. We're asking the citizens to help us.
"If you see something suspicious going on in your neighborhood don't hesitate to call us. If you hear shooting going on in your neighborhood, call us immediately. We will hold your name to the strictest of confidence. Please help us to make Princeville a safe town to live in."
The Princeville Police Department may be reached at 823-1143 or, in case of emergency, dial 9-1-1. Calls can also be made to Crime Stopper 977-1111.