Officials concerned about Beaumont Street crime

Published 12:04 am Sunday, October 11, 2015

NATCHEZ — A short city street with no more than 20 houses has dominated some local law enforcement officers’ time recently.

Beaumont Street, located in Natchez wards 1 and 2, was the location of two murders in 2014.

More recently, the street has been the site of drive-by shootings in which no arrests have been made.

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On Sept. 25, Natchez police responded to a drive-by shooting on Beaumont Street that involved the non-fatal shooting of a Chicago man.

Police again responded to a drive-by shooting on Beaumont Street on Oct. 6, which had no injuries reported.

Ward 2 Alderman Rickey Gray said it’s time for the city to take drastic action in what he’s calling a very dangerous problem on Beaumont.

“They’re begging for some help over there, and they’re scared,” Gray said of a few Beaumont Street residents. “They hear gunfire even during the daytime, but when police show up, they can’t find anything.”

In an effort to combat criminal activity on Beaumont Street, the city is having a special meeting at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 21 to specifically discuss that area.

Gray, who requested the city meet to discuss Beaumont Street, said in an email to Natchez aldermen, “Senior citizens fear for their lives and are afraid to leave their homes. The violence in the area is related to drug activity. Something has got to be done.”

Gray asked for the mayor, board of aldermen, Natchez Police Chief Danny White, the Adams County Bard of Supervisors, Adams County Sheriff Chuck Mayfield and Metro Narcotics officials to attend the meeting.

Natchez police detective Jerry Ford — who plans to attend the meeting, too — said extra patrol officers have been assigned to Beaumont Street recently to regulate criminal activity.

“We have been getting out with our K-9 units and going up and down the street to check for weapons and guns,” Ford said. “We have been hitting it pretty hard.”

The biggest obstacle law enforcement officers have faced in that area, Ford said, is getting eyewitnesses to speak to the police.

Most residents, Ford said, fear that if they give any information to law enforcement officials, criminal retaliation would ensue.

“We need the residents in that area to help us out and let us know who these people are,” Ford said. “We need residents to take an active role.”

Historically, Beaumont Street has not been a high-crime area, Ford said.

In the past few years, however, Ford said Beaumont Street has become an area of concern.

“At one point, it was just as good as any street around here,” Ford said. “But there has been a lot of young people who have moved into that area who are housing criminals.”

Since July, the street has shown up on daily crime reports approximately 20 times. And since Sept. 7, four reports of shots fired on the street have been reported.

“We’re trying to get to the bottom of it, just like everyone else,” Ford said.

Like Ford, Natchez Police Chief Danny White recognizes a problem that needs to be addressed exists on Beaumont Street.

“I really can’t say if it is drug or gang related,” White said. “But we have beefed up patrol a lot in that area.”

At noon on Saturday, the street looked like most other downtown streets.

People were sitting on their front porch, or backing out of their driveway to do some weekend shopping.

Turning left onto the street from East Woodlawn Avenue, one could spot a “Natchez High 2016 Grad” sign on the corner of Beaumont and Woodlawn, and a neighborhood watch sign posted at the beginning of Beaumont Street.

Cars drove by with music blaring from their speakers, blending in with the sound of children playing outside.

“The police, we want to walk hand-in-hand with the people over there,” Ford said. “But we need them to talk first.”

Ford encouraged residents with information on any criminal activity in the Beaumont Street area to call Crime Stoppers at 601-442-5000.

Crime Stoppers offers rewards of up to $1,000 for tips leading to the arrest and conviction of a suspect.

Callers can remain anonymous.