By William Moore
TUPELO – Seven men, between the ages of 18 and 23, appeared before a judge Wednesday afternoon, to face charges in connection with a December shooting in a Tupelo park that injured two juveniles.
A 16-year-old Tupelo male will face similar charges later this week in Lee County Youth Court.
“I am appalled at the behavior of these young men,” said Tupelo Police Chief Bart Aguirre. “Their actions put the lives of others in danger. This kind of activity is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
“We are beefing up patrols to make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen again.”
Police responded to a call of multiple shots fired at Theron Nichols Park on Mitchell Road around 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 22. When officers arrived, the crowd had dispersed and there were no witnesses.
Two juveniles later showed up at the hospital with gunshot wounds. One, shot in the arm, was treated and released that night. The other, a freshman defensive tackle of the Tupelo High School football team, was shot in the lower back, and his injuries have kept him from returning to school.
Police, along with the U.S. Marshal Service task force, served search and arrest warrants Tuesday morning, detaining eight suspects.
Officials charged Harold R. Green, 23, of 3145 Beasley Drive, Tupelo; and Notorious Kennedy, 21, of 122 Willow Street, Shannon; with aggravated assault. They are being held in the Lee County-Tupelo Adult Jail in bonds of $250,000.
Martavius Quashun Dillard, 21, of 1020 Bickerstaff Street, Tupelo; Brice D. Ford, 21, of 3143 Beasley Drive, Tupelo; Darquarrias T. Pounds, 19, of 908 Bickerstaff Street, Tupelo; Jacammeric Smith, 18, of North Hillsdale Drive, Tupelo; and Austin M. Weatherspoon, 20, of 103 Pecan Drive, Shannon; were each charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated assault. Lee County Justice Court Judge Chuck Hopkins set their bonds at $150,000 each.
“Aggravated assault means they had a gun and they fired intentionally at someone else,” said detective Jim Littlejohn. “Conspiracy mean they went to the park with the intent of committing the crime.”
If convicted of aggravated assault, person can face up to 20 years in the state penitentiary. If convicted of conspiracy to commit a felony, a person can up to five years in prison and/or up to a $5,000 fine.
Multiple shots were fired and police recovered shell casings from at least three different caliber weapons.
“We do anticipate that there could be additional arrests in connection with this investigation,” Littlejohn said.