by Max Brantley
The investigation into this crime continues in earnest, but it is clear that this was not an act of terrorism and does not appear to be a premeditated mass shooting. Indications are that this was a terrible local tragedy stemming from a dispute between a small subset of individuals suspected to be involved in gang activity that turned violent because of the presence of existing rivalries and weapons.
In the coming days and weeks many questions will need to be answered as to how to prevent a situation like this from occurring again. The facility has had its liquor license suspended and the manager of the building has served eviction notices. The city will add this location to our criminal abatement program. And our law enforcement officials need the assistance of the community to bring these perpetrators to justice. People who have information about who was doing the shooting must come forward and assist the police with their investigation. We will dedicate every resource and leverage every offer of help to ensure that this cannot and will not happen again. I would like to thank each entity - federal, state, and local - that has reached out to offer assistance.
Beyond this particular incident, however, there is the larger issue of increased violence in our city which is also being experienced in many U.S. cities around the country due to the epidemic of illegal drugs. A pivotal component of this situation is that there are too many weapons in the city in the hands of those who should not have them. We are committed to working with the Prosecuting Attorney to have the U.S. Attorney’s office adopt more “felon in possession” cases leading to stiffer penalties at the federal level. The Governor and I will be forming a taskforce to develop additional resources and efforts to get the guns out of the hands of the wrong people by adding additional resources to the parole and probation functions of the Department of Community Correction. Additionally, the City’s Violent Crime Apprehension Team, which consists of 25 officers, are working full time in violent hot spots of the city to apprehend offenders. They have taken over 70 weapons off the street since their inception in February and made over 335 arrests to date.
However, to solve this problem we need more than just law enforcement, we need the collective efforts of everyone, including every business, neighborhood association, church and individual. There is no quick fix or magic elixir that can instantly turn this around. Real investment in our young people needs committed mentoring by individuals and organizations coming together with smart strategies and smart funding decisions. The power of partnership and prayer will bring peace back to the streets of Little Rock.