Mobile chief decries possible vigilante reprisals

A string of violent episodes in Mobile from Tuesday night into Wednesday prompted Police Chief Lawrence Battiste to warn that "we won’t tolerate vigilante justice."

Lawrence said the slew of incidents, which saw one person killed and at least five more injured by gunfire, are still under investigation. He said much remained unclear as of Wednesday afternoon. He did not say for sure that some of the shootings were retaliatory, just that it was a possibility police were actively considering.

He singled out four episodes at scattered locations:

At about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday on Duval Street in the Maysville area — north of I-10 off Michigan Avenue — two people were injured by gunfire. Both were treated and released from medical care, Battiste said. Their ages were 17 and 20, he said.

At about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday on Driftwood Drive North — a street east of Dauphin Island Parkway, north of Dog River and south of the Brookley airfield — shots were fired into a dwelling. One person was taken to USA Medical Center; Battiste said that at last report that person was in critical condition. An infant also was injured by debris from gunfire, the chief said.

At about 8 a.m. Wednesday police responded to a call on North Kendall Court about a person shot in the hand. Police believe that wound was self-inflicted, Battiste said. That location is in the same general area as Driftwood Drive North.

Around noon Wednesday, two people were shot near the intersection of Lafayette St. and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., north of Spring Hill Avenue in midtown Mobile. One was pronounced dead at the scene and another was treated at USA Medial Center for wounds that Battiste said were not severe. He said a woman and an infant were in or near the car in which the victims were shot.

"Early on in the investigation, we have not made any particular correlation between the different incidents that I have described to you here," Battiste said. "What I will say is … if these incidents are correlated in any kind of way, I want those individuals that are out there that are responsible to know that as we track down every possible lead that we can track down, if we can find anything that makes them responsible or that we can hold them accountable for these actions, we will do it. And once we arrest them we will use everything within our means to ensure that we prosecute them to the strictest letter of the law we possibly can.

"Our community will not be held hostage and under siege by individuals that feel like the only way to get things done is by shooting it out."

Battiste went on to criticize individuals and families who don’t cooperate with investigators because they plan to take things into their own hands. "We’re going to ask people that would typically ask law enforcement what they’re doing, ask them what they’re doing in their communities to hold these individuals accountable, in their neighborhoods. They know who these individuals are, they need to speak up. They need to do something to help us get these individuals off the street."

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