The sound of silence: Why no one is calling 911 when shootings happen

Shootings continue in Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The latest deadly shooting in Jacksonville left three men wounded and one man dead. It creates the 43rd homicide in Jacksonville in 2017 alone.

The community in Northwest Jacksonville says the quadruple shooting is nothing new. Neither is the fact that there are no suspects yet and there few details as to what happened and why shots were fired in the first place.

Part of the problem, neighbors admit to First Coast News, is that no one is calling 911 when those gunshots ring out.



As violence disturbs the Moncrief area, a section of Jacksonville with the highest crime rate, local resident Russell Walker says all you will hear from surrounded homes is the sound of silence because no one wants to put themselves in danger.

“I live out here on Moncrief and the reason people don’t call police most of the time is because, from my experience with the police, when you do call the police you are treated like a bad guy yourself,” Walker said.

Walker works full time and often doesn’t get home to his wife and children until around 2 a.m.  He describes living in Moncrief as survival of the fittest. He says hardship and violence go hand in hand.

“There’s no money over here, there’s no jobs over here, there’s a lot of people hungry and suffering,” Walker said. “A man is very angry when his children have no food on their table or lights over their head.”

While the sound of gunshots have become a part of life so has trying to ignore them.

“When you start getting into other people’s business, people will start doing stuff to you, and I have a wife and children and I don’t want problems like that. That is my business,” said Walker, pointing toward his family inside his fenced-in home. “Everything in this square is my business. Everything outside of this square is not my business.”

Fortified by a fence, Walker is very protective of his family inside, especially after bringing home a new addition Wednesday morning.

“Our newborn daughter and you know we brought her home today," he said. "I got the next few days off. I’m going to sit in there and spend time with my daughter, let her get to know me, how much I love her and do whatever I can for her.

Walker says he is concerned for his daughter living in Moncrief, but he says those are his circumstances in life right now. It’s ultimately that love for his family that keeps him quiet, and he says the same goes for most people in his community.



“You don’t want to bring anything to your house, no problems to your house," he said. "Just like last night, I heard gun shots and I said ‘sounded like somebody got killed’, I checked on my kids, got my baby from the hospital and went to sleep because, you know, just being honest, that’s what I did.”

But it’s not just the fear of retaliation that prevents that call for help. Walker says it’s also the fear of what the answer to a call for help could bring.

He says their broken relationship with police is almost worse than retaliation from his neighbors involved in crime. Walker says his encounters with police never go smoothly, even when he is trying to help.

“I ask the officer a question and his first response is ‘what do you want!’ Why are you placing your hand on your gun and raising your voice at me? Right then you show me you already have a problem with me or you don’t like me, I don’t know, but that shuts me down with you," Walker said.

Walker says he wishes their relationship with JSO and FHP was better so they could work together to stop the violence.

With the latest string of shootings, First Coast News pulled the data from all homicide cases so far in 2017. Just this year, there have been 43 homicides in Jacksonville, the majority of which have happened in Moncrief.
Out of those 43 homicide cases, 29 are still ongoing investigations and 12 have resulted in arrests with charges. There have been 11 female victims and 32 male victims. The majority of victims were in their 20s. According to police reports, the majority of homicides took place on Mondays and Thursdays between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. and 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. At least 11 cases were caused by domestic violence and the majority of victims were killed at or near their own home.

First Coast News brought the concerns raised by Walker and his community to JSO for comment. We requested an interview with Sheriff Williams to discuss these concerns. He wasn't available, but his office sent us the following statement.

"I wouldn’t disagree that in every part of the city there are people who are tenuous about having a relationship with the police. But, I’d also like to remind you that in every neighborhood in the city there are citizens who are engaged with us and connecting through Sheriff’s Watch and are going to meetings; or are a part of a neighborhood watch;  or participate in walks with Lt’s and ACs; or are online with us via Nextdoor or any of our social media platforms; or they simply are willing to have a conversation with an officer and talk about what is going on in their neighborhood.

Our officers value those conversations, and we will never stop trying to connect with everyone who wants to be a part of the effort to prevent and solve crime and help JSO protect and serve in partnership with the community."

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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