LAWRENCE COUNTY, MS (WLBT) - Thursday night in Lawrence County, shots rang out in the Oma community. Two homes had been shot – one more than 10 times – along with two vehicles.
Authorities said it’s a feud on Mount Olive Road that has been boiling up for an extended period of time. At least four shootings have occurred there in recent years, the most recent of which was Thursday night.
It’s frustrating for local law enforcement, who have suspects. The closest they’ve gotten to any names or vehicle descriptions from the community, though, is several people who have told them, “You know who it is.”
But that’s not enough, said Sheriff Lessie Butler.
“They won’t give us information that’s down in black and white that we can pursue and take to court so someone can be accountable for the actions that were taken,” Butler said. “It kinda ties your hands in law enforcement because you can’t just go out and grab someone because you think that person did something.”
It started several years ago. There were at least two shootings fueled by the feud a few years back and it seemed to have gotten quiet. Then in December, the beef raised its head again. In that case, a house was also set on fire the same night as the shooting, but there was never sufficient evidence to prove arson.
“They have turned this one road in Oma, Mississippi into an unsafe, ‘never know what is going to happen’ zone. There are good people living on this road that are affected by the outcome of these things,” said Undersheriff Brian Rayborn. “They don’t take the safety of themselves or anyone else seriously, they don’t care who they hurt or what the outcome is going to be.”
“We’ve called in state assistance in the past and have spent many hours in this area of our county, on these same people, but the proof and being able to put it through the legal system has not been there,” Rayborn said.
A couple who are renting in the area did not want to give their names or be shown on camera. Both their home and their vehicles have bullets that traveled through them in the December shooting. They said police told them the bullets appeared to be from a high-powered rifle.
Meanwhile, shell casings found after last night’s shooting lead the sheriff’s department to believe the gun used was an AK-47.
“If the people were in the wrong place it would have been bad but it’s a blessing that nobody was hit by all the ammo that was discharged at the scene,” said Sheriff Lessie.
Residents of the homes struck Thursday night declined to speak on the subject.
“This needs to stop,” Butler said. “This is something that the community has to get involved with and say enough is enough.”
Now it’s time, authorities say, for the community to chip in for their own well-being.
“If someone would step up – one or two people, even just one – and start naming names so we can move forward and put an end to this,” said Rayborn.