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UPDATE: Gun scare at Douglass Park Easter event

Sunday, April 12, 2009 | 5:33 p.m. CDT; updated 7:29 p.m. CDT, Sunday, April 12, 2009
A community Easter party Saturday afternoon at Douglass Park was interrupted by a gun scare.

The community Easter Party Saturday afternoon at Douglass Park was interrupted by a gun scare. No one was injured, and no arrests were made.

At about 5:10 p.m., an announcement was made warning partygoers that someone in the park was carrying a gun. Families were advised to find their children and leave the park immediately.

Columbia Police Department Sgt. Dan Beckman said officers were called to an incident near the basketball courts at the park. When they arrived, Beckman said, the disturbance had apparently ended.

About a half hour later, Margaret Hickem, one of the event's organizers, said an incident involving 10 men had occurred in the park some distance away from the celebration.

“We’ll get through this,” Hickem said. Groups of attendees nodded in agreement.

After addressing the crowd, Hickem turned over the microphone to her 8-year-old niece, Menyon Ricketts, who sang "I’m Goin’ Down" by Mary J. Blidge, for which she received thunderous applause.

The party resumed with dancing and food, though most families with small children had left the park. Officers remained at the party to watch out for any additional trouble.


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Comments

Charles Dudley Jr April 12, 2009 | 5:12 a.m.

Close down that dam park once and for all and make a build some form of educational institution on the site instead.

(Report Comment)
Matt Y April 12, 2009 | 11:32 a.m.

I'm pretty sure that baseball field they want to spend thousands to build would solve these type of issues.

Wait, nevermind.

(Report Comment)
Ernest Payne April 12, 2009 | 12:57 p.m.

A gun scare in America? This is news?

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr April 12, 2009 | 12:58 p.m.

Close down that dam park once and for all and build some form of educational institution on the site instead.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro April 12, 2009 | 1:41 p.m.

As the "black community's" park, it's a shame that "they" ruin it for their own. Perhaps it's time to either have a CPD kiosk or park ranger on-site, especially when school's out and/or during special events, such as this.
How much worse can it get when you have gun fighting "gangsta's" at a supposed family-friendly Easter gathering?
Where's Mary Ratliff and her NAACP group when a real chastise is called for?

A year’s worth of headlines (2008)
Douglass Park has been in the news this year. A shooting April 16 injured two men. An 18-year-old man and a 25-year-old man sustained gun shot wounds in the leg and ankle, respectively.
A June 12 stabbing sent two men to the hospital. The police found a broken bottle and fresh blood under the larger shelter near Rogers Street. That same night, a fight broke out among minors on the corner of Ninth and Walnut streets. The disturbance eventually grew into a crowd of 100 to 150 people and moved behind Douglass High School before police were able to disperse it. Police heard but could not confirm that someone was carrying a gun. In a rare move, the park was shut down for the rest of the evening.
On June 30, officers patrolling the area approached a vehicle in the small parking lot abutting Rogers Street. The smell of marijuana prompted a search that yielded a few grams of crack cocaine, prescription pills and a .38-caliber semiautomatic pistol. Besides issuing felony possession charges, the police discovered that three of the four vehicle occupants had outstanding warrants.
Most recently, in the early afternoon of Nov. 4, two men in a black Chevrolet Malibu pulled into Douglass Park’s smaller parking lot. Three independent witnesses say Grady F. Dortch Jr., 28, exited the vehicle and fired a small caliber handgun at Miles Heard, 28. Heard died shortly after arriving at University Hospital from bullet wounds in the right side of his chest and left thigh. Dortch was arrested for first-degree murder and armed criminal action after turning himself in a day later.
With the appearance of crack cocaine. An increase in drug activity and related violence led the police chief at the time, William Dye, to form a task force in the First Ward. “Douglass Park has been categorically grouped with Section 8 housing, poverty, drugs and crime,”
What Thompson knows is that some in the community see a lot of drinking, gambling and loitering at Douglass Park. They also see drug activity. “Visually, that makes the average person not feel comfortable going into the park,” he says. Because people fear confronting suspicious behavior in the park, the community remains silent, and little is accomplished.
(Source: Missourian VOX)

(Report Comment)
Jamie Gould April 12, 2009 | 2:01 p.m.

This is very sad. I drove by before the gun scare, and the park was packed with people, white as well as black. People were walking to the event with little kids carrying Easter baskets, and the streets to the north and east of the park were lined on both sides with parked cars. Lots of people, lots of little kids. Why would anyone feel the need to take a gun to what was essentially a party for children in broad daylight? Would it do any good to post signs at the entrances to the park stating no weapons allowed and then prosecute to the fullest extent possible?

(Report Comment)
Jamie Gould April 12, 2009 | 2:03 p.m.

...and where is Tom Dresner when you would like to hear his comments on the situation?!

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro April 12, 2009 | 2:18 p.m.

"Officers said a fight between youths caused the commotion."
--"Gun-Toting" Parentless Youths?

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr April 12, 2009 | 7:11 p.m.

>>> ray shapiro April 12, 2009 | 2:18 p.m.
"Officers said a fight between youths caused the commotion."
--"Gun-Toting" Parentless Youths? <<<

With no concealed weapons permits to I suppose.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro April 12, 2009 | 8:00 p.m.

MB:
Thank you for going on the record. Perhaps the organizers of this Easter gathering should have asked for a police presence or park ranger. This may or may not have prevented the gun incident or fighting, however it would have helped.
You seem to be the kind of person I would enjoy working with on a community-based committee. Perhaps our paths will cross, someday.

(Report Comment)
Tom Dresner April 12, 2009 | 8:15 p.m.

I heard someone was looking for me.

I am not sure what commentary you're looking for. I'll try to help though.

What would you like to know?

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro April 12, 2009 | 8:29 p.m.

Mr. Dresner:
It's Easter Sunday. Don't you have better things to do?
I trust that Mr. Gould clarifies his concerns.
If not, c'est la vie!

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance April 12, 2009 | 11:25 p.m.

Wow, there is 4 posts from Ray and he has the audacity to ask Dresner if he had anything better to do? Unbelievable. To the Missourian moderators, these chronic-bloggers make the comment section very hostile. Between the Chuck's expertise on everything, Ray's perverted fascination with the evils of homosexual sex, and John Schultz insistence on getting into a hissing match with both of them, this blog is nothing more than a pathetic forum for the political fringe. So much for meaningful debate

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro April 13, 2009 | 12:02 a.m.

@Tim:
You could interpret my post as audacious or you could interpret it as an awesome compliment. The choice is yours.
I certainly hope you had a good Easter.
Regards,
Ray Shapiro

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr April 13, 2009 | 4:25 a.m.

Tim Dance I am very sorry you feel that you cannot come off the porch and play down here in the streets where life is really lived.

We post our opinions because and they must mean something to us and the Missourian must too being they allow us to post just as you can if you choose to.

We obviously do not though hold back on our opinions at all.

Have a great day and hope to see you post here more.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr April 13, 2009 | 4:30 a.m.

Tom Dresner imho with all of the crime that has been perpetrated in Douglas Park just over the 8 years I have lived here it is obvious that park needs to:

1: Either be shut down and an educational institution built on the site.

2: A full time Police force all of it's own.

3: New chain link fencing with only one way in or out and make it into the gladiator type setting it represents in that area.

Mike Hood and Bill Watkins can do all of the improvements they want to but those improvements do absolutely nothing to curb the ongoing crime issue in that park nor ever will.

It is all a facade to appease the masses of First Ward.

(Report Comment)
King Diamond April 13, 2009 | 8:48 a.m.

Big words about coming out and playing in the streets Charles considering you live in a tower.

(Report Comment)
Tom Dresner April 13, 2009 | 8:52 a.m.

Chuck, please. That's not an option.

Historically there have been occasional high profile incidents of crime, but doing away with the park is not near the answer. The rich cultural history of that park, and its location in the central city make it one of Columbia's special places. That may sound self-serving, but back when I was a "real" cop, I made a lot of friends and cultivated long-lasting relationships that remain to this day, now that I largely push a pencil.

Ironically, this was one of the locations envisioned for the portable camera systems.

As for someone there with a gun, sure, that's possible. And it's possible in every other park as well.

(Report Comment)
King Diamond April 13, 2009 | 9:05 a.m.

Speaking of which, when does Douglass Park get renamed to Thunderdome? You all want to hire staff to man a pavillion? What is Master Blaster doing these days...

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr April 13, 2009 | 9:14 a.m.

Tom Dresner you know what I mean though as far as options. This is obviously a serious ongoing issue that needs to be addressed and a sound firm solution implemented before another unwarranted and needless killing or any form of serious crime keeps rearing it's ugly head.

Only this City Council Members,Mayor,Chief of Police and all Civic Leaders working together can come up with a sound solution but it is too obvious this ongoing problem has been allowed to go on far to long.

What do you suggest Tom Dresner more CW Permits be issued in this city? We revert back to the old vigilante days of old? Or do you suggest citizens hide in their homes afraid to visit their local parks or to just even enjoy their front yards in general with their children.

The ball on this one is in the hands of City Council and CPD. The real question here is are both party's aforementioned going to pick up the ball and run with it or fumble it like a monkey playing with a football and a gallon of warm Vaseline?

I am sure alot of concerned citizens in this community want to know that answer.

Have a good day sir.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr April 13, 2009 | 9:18 a.m.

>>> King Diamond April 13, 2009 | 8:48 a.m.
Big words about coming out and playing in the streets Charles considering you live in a tower. <<<

Considering you cannot use your real name here,have no clue of the types of nasty streets I have played on in cities much larger than this one,your comment is moot.

Have a great day.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley April 13, 2009 | 12:23 p.m.

ray shapiro April 12, 2009 | 8:29 p.m.

Mr. Dresner:
It's Easter Sunday. Don't you have better things to do?
I trust that Mr. Gould clarifies his concerns.
If not, c'est la vie!
-------------------------------------------------------------

Ray, I don't know how that statement to Chief Dresner was meant. But, I took it as a little disrespectful. Now, if you meant that statement in a disrespectful way, then please try to refrain from being an "ass clown"! You should be thanking Chief Dresner for taking the time out of his day to try to be involved here.

Now, if you meant that statement in the way of "please be with your family today", then I apologize for the terse remark ! But, your statement just came across to me as a bit disrespectful, and uncalled for.

Rick.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro April 13, 2009 | 1:32 p.m.

Rick:
Mr. Dresner took time to make himself available to Mr. Gould. This was an Easter evening and I was surprised and in awe that he went above and beyond. While not his first time posting on the Missourian, I was compelled to post some kind of acknowledgment. Sorry if it came across as a little bit crass. This wouldn't be the first time my intentions were misunderstood. Probably won't be the last.

(Report Comment)
Tom Dresner April 13, 2009 | 8:04 p.m.

Lighten up guys. No harm done. Let's be clear, though. I am not the chief anymore.

Chuck, your argument as stated is too limiting to attempt a reply. Your disdain for Douglass Park is pretty apparent, and your "solutions" aren't anything that I can begin to reply to.

Sorry, I can't help you with this one.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley April 13, 2009 | 10:38 p.m.

If it was up to Chuck, we'd bulldoze the parks and replace them with assisted living facilities.

Thats just me giving Chuck a hard time.. LOL.

But, on a more serious note (and while I suppose I should refrain from calling you Chief; I think you certainly earned the title), Captain Dresner why doesn't the Police Department assign an Officer to Douglass Park? Is it a manpower issue? It would seem to me that this might curtail some of the crime, and would be an effective means for fighting crime and getting some of the "thugs" off of the street, since this would probably be the scene for many arrests. Why not put the Police in the "hotbed of criminal activity"?

Rick.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr April 14, 2009 | 4:51 a.m.

>>> Ricky Gurley April 13, 2009 | 10:38 p.m.
If it was up to Chuck, we'd bulldoze the parks and replace them with assisted living facilities. <<<

Actually Rick I was thinking another multipurpose youth center just like the ARC is but on that section of land then you would have your police station on site too.

The obviously put the ARC in the wrong location in my book.

I agree Rick put our Police in the Hot Seat where the majority of crime in First Ward is at.

Once they clean up that cess pool then move them to Derby Ridge to begin the clean up over there too.

The only problem though I hear about Derby Ridge is that they would need full combat gear.

(Report Comment)

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