Published 12:00 am Friday, October 15, 2010

Police lock down street, respond to calls of gunshots

By John Howell Sr.

Batesville police closed down Noble Street Wednesday night after altercations and gunfire led to arrests of two men.

George Lee Todd Jr. was arrested at 205 Noble Street and charged with discharging a firearm in the city and felon in possession of a firearm, Police Detective Captain Paul Shivers said.

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Todd was also charged with armed robbery stemming from an incident near the home about a week earlier, Shivers said. The firearm Todd was alleged to have been in possession of at his Wednesday night arrest matched the firearm used in the robbery, he added.

George Mister, also known as “Boone,” was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and evidence tampering, the police detective said. Shivers said that the evidence tampering charge was levied when Mister allegedly tried to discard his contraband through two toilets in the home.

Mister’s juvenile child was transported from the home to the police station where a Department of Human Services representative was contacted who made a transfer of custody to another parent, Shivers said.

After several calls to the area, police officers responded to a call at 4:43 p.m. that fighting was occurring at the corner of Noble and Garson Streets. “That’s where the discharge took place,” Shivers said.

Later, about 7:41, the police department received a report that “people were outside with guns in the street,” Shivers said.

Deputy Police Chief Don Province called out 12 additional officers and set up a roadblock, allowing the street’s residents and their visitors but turning away sightseers.

During a Thursday morning meeting, Province, Shivers and Police Chief Tony Jones met to sort out the incidents. The neighborhood is a mixture of elderly residents and young people, including some young families, according to the officers.

The trouble stems from occupants of three rental homes, two of which are side-by-side with one across the street from those two.

“Noble Street used to be the quietest street in town; now it’s the worst,” Province said.

“People who own homes and they rent them out to folks, they have some obligations somewhere — to the community and to the neighbors,” said Jones, critical of landlords who don’t screen their renters.

The police officers said that during the roadblocks pedestrians converged on the area. When officers turned non-residents and sightseers away, officers heard some shouts of “profiling” and “harassment.”

Others, Province said, “They thanked us for being there.”