African-American Leaders Hope To Curb North Mississippi Violence

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(Horn Lake, MS) The recent shooting of a teenager in an apparent drug deal in Horn Lake’s Twin Lakes neighborhood hit a little too close to home for Lisa Matthews.

"It makes me think about moving out of the neighborhood because that happened so close to home, what else could happen over in that neighborhood," she said.

In recent weeks, a rash of violence has taken the lives of teenagers from Southaven to Batesville.

The reported gang-related shooting of a teenager at a North Panola High football game got the attention of DeSoto community activist Mike Smith.

"Obviously the young man was killed at the football game at Sardis, and then prior to that we had the young man involved in a drug deal gone bad in Horn Lake," he said.

Panola investigators recently released one of the teens in the Sardis case and arrested two others in the case, including one teen from Baltimore, Maryland.

Smith says the problem has become so big, he’s invited leaders from five counties to take part in a discussion looking for solutions to violence here.

He says officials from the district attorney, to police and sheriff’s officers from DeSoto, Tate, Panola, Tunica and Marshall counties will take part in the meeting Thursday night.

Smith says in order to stop a problem, you have to feed it an opportunity.

"If we don’t take the time to teach the young men the right things, somebody else out there with the time will teach them the wrong thing," he said.

He says he hopes the meeting will give birth to a mentoring program and other options to stop teen crime.

"If we don’t take these children now and to give them something else to do rather than trying to hurt someone else, I think it’s a good idea," Smith said.

The meeting takes place Thursday night in Southaven. It is not open to the public.