Violence Plagues West Memphis Neighborhoods

(West Memphis, AR) A string of shootings in the south part of West Memphis has been attributed to a decades-long feud between two groups. While residents debate the cause of the violence, all of them want it to stop.

“There are people shooting at each other, but it has nothing to do with what went on 20 years ago,” said one woman who wished to remain anonymous.

She said a shooting just took place on Thursday night near her home.

“To be honest, I’ve been through it. So I kind of knew how to calm my kids down. But they were terrified.”

West Memphis Police Chief Donald Oakes was unavailable for comment on Friday, but he was quoted in a local newspaper saying that the feud goes back 20 years.

While people disagree about what started the fighting, they agree it must stop.

In March, someone shot at a police car.

On May 6, a person named Devario Smith was killed at a local club. Residents on Redding Street told News Channel 3 a man was beat up there the same night. One house was also peppered with bullets.

On May 22, News Channel 3 covered a tense stand-off when police searched for Eddie Tribble, who they believe is responsible for killing Smith.

When asked what it would take to stop the violence, Earl Gladney, whose house was shot at, said, “Both sides coming together and just talking. Because a lot of people don’t even know what they’re fighting for.”

But his cousin, Minister Sherry Levy, said such a meeting may not work. She believes the conflict has escalated.

She said she has thought about having the local pastors and preachers get together to address the issue, but she said even they feel wary of getting involved.

Levy said no one truly understands why they’re in a supposed war zone. “For what? Why, why are you jumping people? Why are you fighting? We have no idea. Honestly, we have no idea.”

Levy said the people responsible for shooting at the house on May 6 still carry threats of more violence. The incident has made her family even reconsider their July 4 barbecue.

The West Memphis mayor, police chief, council members in this district and chairman of the police commission were not available for comment before this story aired.