BIRMINGHAM – Birmingham Police Department (BPD) Chief Scott Thurmond held a press conference Tuesday morning to address the spree of homicides that plagued the city over Labor Day weekend.
On Friday, a shooting on Arkadelphia Road led to the death of a Birmingham man and the life-threatening injury of a female toddler, according to police.
After responding to a report of a traffic accident, BPD officers found two vehicles that had collided with one another. They discovered Demarkus Etwan Moss, 22, slumped over with a gunshot wound in one of the cars.
Moss was ruled dead at the scene by Birmingham Fire and Rescue (BFR). The rest of the victims, including the female toddler as well as a male infant and the injured occupants of the second vehicle, were transported to nearby hospitals.
The male infant and occupants of the second vehicle’s injuries were not life-threatening, according to police.
On Saturday, Rodriquez Jerrell Powell, 32, and Justin Jarell Taylor, 35, were found unresponsive inside a vehicle suffering from gunshot wounds. Powell was pronounced dead at the scene, and Taylor was pronounced dead at UAB Hospital.
According to police, the initial investigation suggested that an assailant drove past the victims and fired shots from another vehicle. Officers discovered over 20 shell casings on the ground.
Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin posted on Facebook on Sunday morning, calling out members of the gangs H2K, 6500 Boys, 420, TMSG and CPMG and asking them to “chill out and put the guns down.”
Woodfin said at least one of the Labor Day weekend shootings is believed to be gang-related.
Later that night, Jalen Jamarcus Tolbert, 24, and Marquse Terrail Yarbrough, 25, were found lying on 3rd Avenue West suffering from gunshot wounds. A third adult male was found in an apartment suffering from gunshot wounds as well.
According to police, the investigation suggested one of the victims was involved in an argument before multiple individuals fired shots. The gunshot detection system, Shot Spotter, estimated that over thirty rounds were fired.
Tolbert and Yarbrough both were pronounced dead at the hospital. The third victim survived.
Police said another adult male made it to UAB Hospital alone with non-life-threatening gunshot wounds in another vehicle.
“Our city is up against individuals who do not mind firing an alarming number of rounds at one another from powerful weapons, often in a place that gets community members in harm's way,” Thurmond said. “Whether it's a result of groups feuding or individuals involved in a disagreement, violence is shown to be the number one tool to use to resolve issues in our communities. Everyone must play a part in changing this narrative.”
When asked about the prevalence of gangs, Thurmond said “groups” were the cause of many of Birmingham’s problems. He said he doesn’t know whether or not the groups were at war with one another, and the BPD is doing anything it can to dismantle them.
According to Thurmond, many homicides result from an altercation between people who know each other.
“The problem with that is, those are long-lasting effects which can never be reversed,” Thurmond explained.
Thurmond encouraged Birmingham citizens to provide information to bring perpetrators of violence into custody. He said BPD officers were able to make an arrest in a homicide investigation at the beginning of the month due to a citizen coming forth with information.
“The message needs to be delivered to everyone that if you inflict violence upon one another, our fellow community members or anyone else in our city, we’re going to do everything we can to bring you to justice,” Thurmond said. “... The community has to be the eyes and ears of the police department. It’s hard to be everyone at the same time.”
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