Reports on social media that a gang is coming to Pine Bluff from Chicago to commit murders as an initiation have no basis in fact, according to Pine Bluff Police Chief Kelvin Sergeant.
“We have no intelligence that would substantiate that,” Sergeant said Friday.
The same social media post’s claim that three people, including a 5-year-old and a 7-year-old, had been shot and that the 7-year-old died are also not true, he said.
“A 7-year-old did get shot, but they were not killed,” Sergeant said.
The girl was riding in a car with her grandparents Tuesday night when a bullet struck the vehicle and injured her. It had been fired at a male who had jumped out of an SUV at the intersection of West 28th Avenue and Catalpa Street. The girl was treated at Jefferson Regional Medical Center for non-life threatening wounds and released.
Multiple reports of shots fired in the area between Oak and Olive streets from West 25th Avenue to West 28th Avenue Wednesday night led police to find a vehicle that been hit by gunfire in a ditch at 26th Avenue and Elm Street. The vehicle was unoccupied.
While searching the area, officers talked to a woman who said she was backing her car into a driveway in the 800 block of West 26th Avenue when she saw two black males shooting at each other. One of the bullets hit her car, which she was sitting in at the time.
As of Thursday afternoon, no victims of that shooting incident have been located.
Meanwhile, as police continue their investigation into the latest homicide, which happened Monday, Sergeant said that investigating information of any kind takes time, and information that is not true or spread with malicious intent hurts the original investigation.
As a result of an increase in violent crimes, particularly in the central part of the city, Sergeant said he is streamlining the Violent Crimes Task Force, which up to now has been a part of the Investigations Bureau.
“It’s going to be a stand-alone unit headed by a captain with a lieutenant and sergeant,” the chief said. “Their job will be to identify those individuals who are responsible for violent crimes in the city. To focus on them, conduct surveillance, collect intelligence on what they do and how they do it that will hopefully lead to an arrest.”
The unit will be headed by Capt. Denise Richardson, and Sergeant said she will look at weekly crime stats to decide where they need to be and when they need to be there.
“The community is also going to see a lot more traffic enforcement, particularly in the central part of the city,” Sergeant said. “These guys have got to get from point A to point B with a weapon in their vehicle to commit the crimes.”
The chief said that while the department will be focusing on violent crimes, they will still be working on other cases, citing, for example, a rash of burglaries and thefts in the southern part of town and providing security for events this weekend like Pop Up in the Bluff.
“We’re going to have extra security because we want them to feel safe when they come downtown to enjoy themselves,” Sergeant said.