Jacksonville City Council Hit With Complaints Over Shots Fired Incident on South Prairie

By Benjamin Cox on October 26, 2021 at 1:41pm

The Jacksonville City Council was confronted by a small number of residents last night after their neighborhood was victim to a drive-by shots fired incident more than a week ago.

Several residents from the 600 block of South Prairie Street asked for accountability and action from the City Council after they believe the victim of the shooting in question had spurred on their shooting in the otherwise peaceful neighborhood.

Kay Berg asked if the council, the State’s Attorney, and the local police had done any follow up on the shooting that occurred at approximately 8:30PM on Monday, October 18th at 650 South Prairie Street. James Nicholson, an EMS worker and combat veteran expressed that he has been dealing with heightened Post Traumatic Stress on top of what he already has due to the incident. A mother from the block said that her and her child were outdoors just 15 minutes prior to the shooting and now her children feel unsafe in the neighborhood.

Berg and Ward 3 Alderman Mike Bartlett got into a heated exchange at one point, with Berg accusing the alderman of inaction on behalf of his ward. Bartlett refuted the argument saying he had followed up with the police, the county sheriff’s department, and others on the matter.

Police Chief Adam Mefford says he didn’t want to argue with residents because he knows their concerns are valid: “I will not push back against their concerns. The neighborhood is a very nice neighborhood. Having that kind of incident in the neighborhood is a very traumatic incident. People don’t expect to be unsafe and insecure in their homes, having to put up with that kind of behavior going on in their streets. For them to be frustrated is definitely understandable. I’m compassionate towards their concerns. There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes, a lot of investigations, and a lot of other things that are going on that aren’t necessarily seen on the surface addressing those issues. There has been enforcement that has taken place there. Unfortunately, we also have to play by the rules. We can’t just go and push back over what we have our limitations on. People are allowed to be secure in their homes, just as the neighborhood wouldn’t want us to come in and start doing things unlawfully.”

Mefford says the situation in the 600 block of South Prairie started with animal complaints, but had escalated to the shooting. Mefford says his department is frustrated as well, because they have not been getting cooperation from individuals involved in the incident: “We are just as frustrated as the individuals who spoke tonight are when we don’t get cooperation from victims. In this case, we didn’t have a lot of cooperation from the victim in this case so it makes our job harder to perform an investigation. I feel for those residents there. They have children there. That is an unacceptable act that was done, and we are doing everything we can to try and take those individuals off the street so we don’t have other neighborhoods that get victimized like this.”

Mefford says he does believe that this is an isolated incident and that more shootings of this nature with this group of individuals are contained to this sole incident at this time.

Mefford asks that anyone who has any information can come forward anonymously through Crime Stoppers to leave a tip. No arrests have been made, and the investigation remains ongoing.