UPDATE: Mayor reacts to Friday shooting, shares concerns of community

Published 1:15 pm Saturday, May 6, 2023

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NATCHEZ — Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson said he is grieving for the families of those killed and wounded in Friday night’s shooting, as well as the innocent bystanders who were caught in the gunfire.

“I find it hard to believe this was random. I believe there has to have been a motive. I trust our investigators will determine that soon. I know they are working very hard on this,” Gibson said Saturday morning.

Mayor Dan Gibson

He said he understands and shares the concerns of citizens in Natchez as to what can be done to prevent such senseless acts.

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“I know so many of our citizens, myself included, are concerned every time we hear news such as this. And so often it is hard to imagine what we can do because these incidents keep happening,” he said. “Just last night there were shootings in Vicksburg and Ocean Springs and other cities across our state.

“Obviously illegal access to guns is such a growing problem. We know honest people do things the right way. Those who are not honest still get them somehow and that’s got to change,” the mayor said. “And that’s not just a local problem. That’s a problem all across our country.

“As mayor, I have to ask the questions what can be learned and what can we do going forward. I know this: We’ve got to invest in more cameras. We’ve got to invest in better policing, moving beyond the strategies of the past. And we’ve got to support our law enforcement as never before,” Gibson said.

The city’s work to improve parks and provide wholesome recreational activities for young people has aimed at improving quality of life, the mayor said.

“We are working hard to renew our parks and provide more recreation opportunities for our youth. And we’ve seen improvements in our schools,” he said. “In just a few weeks, we will open again our North Natchez Youth Center, which has been boarded up for years and years. In spite of all this, these things happen.

“Going forward, we’ve got to do a better job of identifying young people who are at risk and who potentially pose risks to others,” Gibson said. “People who have information about these young people have got to share that information. It’s the only way to keep our community safe.

“If anyone knows something and is withholding that, that might as well be an accessory to crime. Because to know something that could prevent these things from happening, and to not share it, in my opinion, is a crime in and of itself,” Gibson said.