By Dave Oedel
Now into the fourth month of 2015, the pace of killings by gunshot in Macon-Bibb is proceeding at the usual clip of about one per month. Ulysses Pitts was shot dead on January 7. Andrew Darrell Brown was shot dead on March 26. In a separate incident also on March 26, Tavaris (also known as Tavarous) Veal was shot dead. Marquis Reginal Lowe was shot dead March 28.
Michael Knighton was murdered in East Macon on or about March 8, but with a knife to the throat rather than a gun.
Pitts’ alleged murderers are Antwan Denard Johnson, 25, and Sherod Ranardo Holston, both with prior records. Drevon Lashuwn McLaurin, 20, shot Brown, though perhaps in self defense. Steven Quintrell Howard, 28, was arrested for gang activity in connection with Veal’s death. Jaqavius Javon Holloway, 21, and Malik Tajhae Young, 19, were arrested in the Lowe killing. Holloway’s mug shot is featured with this post. Mary Brewer, the lone woman mentioned in this article, is sought in the Knighton cut-throat murder.
As to the three March deaths by shooting, the Telegraph reported that Bibb County Coroner Leon Jones “said he didn’t know of anything connecting the cases, other than the victims had been shot.”
The Telegraph in a separate story also indicated that “there might not be much connecting the [two March 26 shootings] than the day of death.”
But is there a way to connect the dots surrounding Macon’s gunshot killings this year to see a broader pattern?
It may be stating the obvious, but apparently the obvious needs to be stated. Consider these nine common factors.
1. All four 2015 gunshot victims were male.
2. All four 2015 gunshot victims were African American.
3. The 2015 gunshot victims’ ages were relatively young, ranging from 19 to 49. Lowe and Veal were each 19. Pitts was 42. Brown was 49.
4. The suspects in the 2015 gunshot killings are all male.
5. The suspects in the 2015 gunshot killings are all African American.
6. The suspects in the 2015 gunshot killings are uniformly young, ranging from 19 to 28.
7. All the 2015 gunshot victims apparently were killed with guns for which the shooters had no concealed-carry permits.
8. None of the 2015 gunshot victims, and none of the suspects, were apparently regularly employed, at least according to reports; few if any had graduated from high school, from what the Monitor could gather from death notices and other reports; and most if not all had criminal records.
9. The 2015 gunshot killings all occurred in areas known as criminally hot zones in predominantly African-American neighborhoods, two on the east side (one on Main at Jones, and another on McCall Road), and the other two on the west side (one off Napier, one off Mercer University Drive).
Although the sheriff’s department has done an able job of quickly investigating each of the 2015 gunshot killings, a more systematic and proactive approach would help if we are to prevent and reduce the number of gunshot killings and other gun-related crimes like armed robberies.
With all the talk about the blight of abandoned homes in Macon, a more pressing concern might be why people are abandoning those areas where the property blight is highest. Violent crime and property crime must rank high on that list of reasons.
When examining the root causes of Macon-Bibb’s high crime rates, it’s no mystery, as this brief review of 2015 gunshot killings suggests. As to violent crimes, we are talking primarily about young black men with guns and criminal records. Although you might get killed in Macon-Bibb by a black woman with a knife, the early data from this year so far suggests that you’re four times more likely to be killed by a young black man with a gun.
So what can we do? At a minimum, we need to stop outlaw carry as a preventive measure to protect these young men — victims and perpetrators alike — and the broader community.
How do we stop outlaw carry? One simple approach is to implement more targeted policing that focuses on confiscating concealed weapons from young men, especially those with criminal records, on every possible occasion. Arrests aren’t essential. Just getting the outlaw guns (guns concealed or unclaimed without permits, or possessed by felons at any time) would be a big step forward.
Such an effort may involve some degree of profiling, but that’s a cost temporarily worth suffering until the shootings and armed robberies decline. With the victims and the perpetrators so far this year all involving young armed black men in neighborhoods known to be more dangerous, we need to acknowledge the source of the risks and place our police resources there.
People in those neighborhoods would have to be willing to tolerate the police as they move to act more proactively in ferreting out and confiscating unlawfully concealed guns, guns in cars that no one claims to own, or guns held by felons.
However the initial task is accomplished, the job itself is clear. Young black men with criminal records carrying guns illegally need to be disarmed before they use those guns for harm to themselves, others and the community.