(Helena-West Helena, AR) There has been a series of burglaries and home invasions in Helena-West Helena, Ark.
There were at least three just this past weekend, and in two of them, shots were fired, although no one was hurt.
The suspects are still on the run.
In one of the home invasions, a former police officer found himself staring down the barrel of a gun.
“I just raised my hands up, like this, and stared down at the bed. Cause I didn’t want to stare at him,” said Mike Strickland.
The retired Helena-West Helena police officer used his training Sunday night, to not provoke a masked man standing inside his bedroom and holding a .357 pistol.
At first Mike Strickland thought someone was playing a joke on him.
“I think he realized that I wasn’t taking him serious. And he fired a shot to let me know that he was serious,” said Strickland.
Neither Strickland nor his girlfriend were hurt.
Strickland said the robber got in through a back door and made it clear what he was after.
“He wanted my money and I told him the only money I got is laying in that money clip right there on the dresser. And it wasn’t nothin’ but a dollar…but he took it,” said Strickland.
The suspect also stole a shotgun and pistol and got away in less than 30 seconds.
On St. Regis Drive an armed man kicked in the door at another house, threatening the couple inside.
A woman was able to get her pistol, fire a shot and chase the robber away.
Homeowner James Bell is concerned about all the violence.
He said it’s going to take a commitment from everyone to make a dent in crime in Helena-West Helena.
“You got to be watching out for your neighbors. And neighbors got to watch out for you. Cause if you don’t, you’re going to wind up a victim, if you don’t,” said James Bell.
But you don’t have to remind Phillip Stackhouse of that.
Tuesday he was walking his dog not far from where a third home invasion happened near the intersection of Beech and Perry Streets.
Ironically, that’s where a suspect hid in the bushes and attempted to rob a man who was just returning home from walking his dog.
“Break-ins are very problematic around here. I experienced one not too long ago, so I definitely understand what people are going through,” said Stackhouse.
Helena-West Helena Police Chief Uless Wallace said it’s not unusual for home invasion robberies to increase during the Christmas season because people are carrying more cash and there are presents for the taking.
It’s believed one suspect committed two of the weekend home invasions but victims haven’t been able to make a positive ID because the robber was wearing a mask.
There is a person of interest, but no one has been arrested so far.