Separate Shootings Leave Two Dead In Clarksdale, MS

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(Clarksdale, MS) An already serious crime problem in Clarksdale, Mississippi is getting worse by the day.

Since Tuesday, there have been two deadly shootings in the Coahoma County city.

They are the latest victims in a community that's seeing an increase in all types of violent crime

Mariah Handford says she will never forget the sounds of gunshots.

Gunfire killed her 20-year old nephew James Cotton.

Wednesday night, the Clarksdale man was sitting in the living room of a house on Page Street when someone started firing shots through the window.

He was shot in the head.

"He was getting himself together. He was going to school and all that and then they just took his life away from us," Mariah Handford says.

Clarksdale police believe Cotton's death was intentional and not a random shooting.

Captain Robbie Linley says, "The evidence showed that he was shot from a very close range. That would actually indicate that the shooter saw who he was shooting at."

Cotton's death came a little more than 24 hours after 18-year-old Patrick Simon was killed on Prince Street.

Two other people were injured in what was described as an "all out gun battle".

Clarksdale's police department has beefed up patrols throughout the city and formed a five man "street crimes" unit to combat rising crime.

"I think basically it's all about a gang war, you know. We need to get a grip on that immediately," says Buster Moten, a Clarksdale City Commissioner.

Commissioner Moten isn't shy about his criticism of mayor Henry Espy.

Moten says the mayor isn't showing enough concern about the spike in violent crime.

"He needs to stop attending meetings in this city and telling the people that they need to be home at nine o'clock and lock their doors," Moten says.

29-year-old Larry Stokes is charged in Patrick Simon's death.

Stokes is being held on $150,000 bond.

James "Whit" Read has taken over as Clarksdale's interim police chief.

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