Michael Boykin likes Natchez. He moved here a decade ago and spent countless dollars renovating and furnishing a historic home. He is as involved as possible in a variety of civic groups.
But Boykin is frustrated and concerned about the crime near his home and the apparent inability of the city of Natchez and law enforcement officials to curb it.
“I think Natchez is dangerous. I think he crossed that line. It’s a dangerous place to live. I could be shot and murdered in my house. It would be news for a day or two and it would be forgotten,” said Boykin, who lives on North Rankin Street. “Whether it happens to a child (from a nearby school) or a tourist. This will decimate Natchez.
Boykin was reacting to a series of three consecutive days of shootings and crimes that took place near his home – and one at his home on January 11 – including the shooting death of Antonia Foster, who was found in the block of 500 homes from Oak Street.
For the past few years, Boykin said he called 9-1-1 “three or four times a week” to report loud music and gunfire near his home.
“I knew it irritated them, but they told me to keep calling,” he said. “It got to a point in October where I stopped calling. It was no use.”
Boykin said he met Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson at a Christmas party, and the mayor commented on the issue near Boykin’s North Rankin Street home.
“He said, ‘Oh, we haven’t heard from you anymore. Things must be calmer there. I said to him: ‘No. I no longer call 9-1-1. It’s just as bad, if not worse. He asked me why I quit, and I told him there’s no point in calling you.
“It’s nothing wrong with the police department, but why waste their resources when they may be dealing with another catastrophic thing in Natchez, to come and take care of things here, especially when there’s no point. ?
“I told them (the police) that I’m going to end up dead because I’m going to get shot and killed in my own house. Guess what, that’s what happened. I just wasn’t killed.
On Tuesday, January 11, Boykin was home and had gone to bed. At approximately 11:17 p.m., he heard what he thought was glass breaking. He got up and briefly investigated, but found nothing.
The next morning, Boykin came downstairs and saw that one of the Portuguese pots in his garden was broken. Upon further investigation, he saw what looked like a bullet hole.
“At first I thought he had collapsed from the cold. Then I looked up and saw a bullet hole through one of my patio doors,” he said.
The bullet that shattered his planter outside went through a window and hit the back of his television. The second bullet, which passed through the French window, hit a painting, a fragment of which is still lodged in the painting.
“I can’t take out my trash at night or I get harassed. I regularly see people defecating and urinating behind this dumpster,” referring to a dumpster at the Zipy Food Store, located at 320 N. Martin Luther King Jr. St., which Boykin says is the source of the crime in the region.
“There is the root of the problem. We allow people to hang out at this Zipy any time of the night. It’s an open bar. It’s a bar that pretends to be a convenience store. Same with the Shop N Save opposite the cathedral. There is no need to sell beer near this school,” Boykin said.
“It’s all this milling that’s going on. This is the main problem. Deep in my heart, I know that is the root of the problem in this area. These stores. I know what I see and hear. We hear ambulances, firefighters and police here every night. They make a lot of noise, but they do nothing. »
He said he understands the city’s police department needs more patrol officers and resources to better pay officers.
“I think they cover Natchez as much as possible. I was no longer going to harass them by dialing 9-1-1. Now that’s changed. It got personal,” Boykin said.
The Mayor and the Board of Aldermen’s Law Enforcement Committee, along with Natchez Police Department leadership and City Attorney Bryan Callaway, met to discuss ways to combat what is considered as harmful undertakings.