John Howell Column

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 23, 2010

John Howell Sr.

Neighbors in Como fearful after early Sunday shooting

Our neighbors in Como are hurting.

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They came to Tuesday night’s meeting of Como’s mayor and aldermen with stories of being awakened by the sound of early morning gunfire — many shots in two incidents separated by some minutes. One lady told about finding a hole in her window the following morning and a bullet lodged in the wall of her dining room.

A man told about the commotion and gunfire. The police chief told of one man who came forward as a witness to the events if not the perpetrators. Later — the day after the meeting — Como Police Chief Fred Boskey called to say that another witness, an eye witness who had initially named three men as shooting participants, had come in to recant her original statement.

Palpable fear.

In Como early Sunday morning, all of the elements came together that we so often attribute to urban ills in Memphis or Chicago or New Orleans: Ex-felons with guns, perhaps back on the street because state or federal budget constraints have squeezed the Department of Corrections to make hasty decisions about whom to let go and whom to keep behind bars; participants quickly mustered along gang or gang wannabe affiliations which fan minor disagreements into shooting rampages. And so on.

Facing this are a few brave people — those who provided police with information, those who came to the board meeting to ask for help.

Count among them The Southern Reporter columnist Donna Taylor, a resident of the neighborhood where the shooting occurred, who minced no words about the shooters in her Thursday column: “They have no respect or self-respect. I liken them to Ku Klux Klansmen in black skin.”

“Think about it,” said one lady who attended Tuesday’s meeting. “How would you feel? If it was at your door, how would you feel?”

This is in Como. These are our neighbors. We can do better.