HELENA-WEST HELENA, Ark.– Helena-West Helena police said a gang related shooting before Saturday’s Christmas parade led to the event being canceled. Now, the mayor wants a city-wide curfew and help from the governor to combat crime.

Eric Martin was born and raised in Helena-West Helena Arkansas at a time when things were a lot more peaceful, especially at Christmas when the annual parade brought folks together.

“We’ve had a Christmas parade out here on Plaza Street…we’ve had a Christmas parade on Cherry Street. There were so many things to do and people got along…but it’s not like that now,” he said.

Martin had planned on taking his children to this year’s Christmas parade along Plaza Street, but that never happened.

Police said a gang related shooting near the parade route forced the parade to be cancelled.

“Just an increase of violence that’s been in the community and we think this whole thing led to a retaliation shooting,” Helena-West Helena Police Chief James Smith said.

Chief Smith said a 17-year-old was shot in the area of South 5th and Plaza Street about two hours before the start of the parade.

The victim crashed into a cemetery monument business and knocked over several marble headstones. Fortunately, he survived his gun shot wounds.

Chief Smith said because the crime scene was so close to the parade route filled with parents and children and no one was certain the shooting had stopped, safety became the top priority.

“We could always reschedule a parade…but we can’t bring anybody back to life,” he said.

In spite of the violence, Lyndell Hall said he won’t let criminal Grinches spoil his Christmas. He’s still decorating his yard.

He said his wife and daughter had hoped to see the parade Saturday but never got to.

“I never hardly go cause I be working all the time..but she gets enjoyment out of going…but she was really disappointed,” Hall said.

Mayor Kevin Smith is outraged by the upswing in violence and has called an emergency meeting involving every level of city government.

The Mayor will look at imposing a citywide curfew and said he plans to contact Arkansas’ Governor, the Department of Justice and at the ATF and request assistance in fighting crime.

There will also be a discussion on whether to reschedule the Christmas parade.

In the meantime, police say Michael Rogers and a male juvenile are in custody in connection with the shooting.

Michael Rogers

Rogers has been charged with terroristic act, second-degree battery, possession of a firearm by certain persons, endangering the welfare of a minor in the first-degree, and fleeing.

The other suspect has been charged with terroristic act, second-degree battery and fleeing.

Investigators are still searching for persons of interest connected to the shooting. If you have any information about the incident, call the Helena-West Helena Police Department at (870)-572-3441.