Yulanda Haddix NAACP 2019

Yulanda Haddix addressing those in attendance at Thursday's meeting

Following the shooting in McKee Park earlier this week that left one person wounded, the Oktibbeha County Chapter of the NAACP and local law enforcement met Thursday evening to discuss violence in the community.

Chapter President Yulanda Haddix said the problems facing the community stem from young adults facing an abundance of idle time.

Haddix said young adults outside of the education system did not have the skills necessary for jobs, leading them to seek easy money through illegal means, which inevitably would lead to violence.

An increase in the amount of available jobs or a way for young adults to gain the skills necessary to be productive in the workforce would help reduce crime, according to Haddix.

District Attorney Scott Colom spoke at the meeting about the importance of teaching young people different approaches to conflict other than violence.

"We've got to do a better job at a younger age of teaching conflict resolution," Colom said.

Colom said those in attendance would be shocked to learn how ridiculous some of the reasons people have cited for murder.

Colom said even if he personally had a hard time understanding the motivations behind crimes, his office would prosecute offenders as effectively as it could.

"No crime is more serious than gun violence," Colom said.

The Starkville Police Department had several members in attendance who spoke about the need for the SPD and the community to work together in the face of crime.

SPD Captain Henry Stewart echoed Colom's disbelief over recent violence.

"We are very concerned with the recent shooting because it's something we haven't seen before," Stewart said.

Sheriff Steve Gladney was also present at Thursday's meeting. Gladney recognized the differences between the situations facing the county and city but said that he was also surprised at the amount of young people his department had dealt with.

Gladney specifically pointed to a string of incidents between 3-4 a.m. when teenagers rode around on bikes looking for unlocked cars. Once inside the cars, Gladney noted that the teenagers had found guns.

Haddix said while the issue was currently affecting the black community, gun violence was not a racial matter.

"It's not a black issue," Haddix said. "Not a white issue. Crime does not have color. It is a community issue."

SPD responded quickly to Monday's shooting by arresting Cedric Splounge of Greenville Tuesday. Splounge was charged with aggravated assault while his brother Kentravious Splounge was charged with accessory after the fact.

Mayor Lynn Spruill condemned the violence but said the shooting was an isolated incident.

Colom also said at Thursday's meeting that it was important to remember Starkville was not a dangerous community, citing its relatively low amount of murders compared to Columbus.

Cedric Splounge is being held in the Oktibbeha County Jail on a $2 million bond, while bond for Kentravious Splounge is set at $1 million.

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