Wilmington violence metastasizes to daytime soccer tournament at Eden Park; one mayoral candidate narrowly missed it
Shootings along certain drug-infested streets of the city, however tragic, are predictable.
Now, even an amateur Jamaican soccer tournament, the Marcus Garvey Soccer Tournament at Eden Park in far south Wilmington, was not immune.
Mid-afternoon pandemonium ensued as three individuals began shooting into the crowd and spectators apparently returned the fire. The toll: One person killed, several others hurt.
A 16-year-old Pike Creek boy was shot in the head. A 47-year-old New Castle man, who apparently organized the tournament, was shot in the chest. A 34-year-old man from Baltimore suffered a shoulder wound.
The original shooters made their get-away but crashed their vehicle a few blocks away. It was one of the suspects in that vehicle who was later pronounced dead at Christiana Hospital. Police collared the two other suspects; one had been shot in the leg.
Late update: Two of the spectators have now died.
Mayoral candidate Kevin Kelley swooped into the park about a half hour before the melee when the scene was still peaceful.
Some hours earlier, police responded to a fatal shooting in the 100 block of East 13th Street. That first shooting may have led to the others.
Wilmington's Mayor Jim Baker: Still AWOL.
But, bluntly, what could a new mayor hope to do about all this? Even the favored solution of neighborhood police foot patrols probably could not have prevented daytime shootings during a sporting event at a city park.
I hesitate to type these words, but, all the city needs is a shooting at the Riverfront and/or Trolley Square and/or along Market Street and ALL the city's comfort zones will have evaporated; I shudder to think how EVERYONE in the city - even at their remaining day jobs - would feel vulnerable and under siege.
Not altogether unlike the vulnerability of residents in the Washington, DC--Baltimore--northern Virginia area in October 2002 when the infamous Beltway sniper was terrorizing people along that stretch. At least in that case, police could end the terror with the capture of one John Allen Muhammad, who was later executed.
I am at a loss to suggest a solution to the Wilmington violence problem. Unfortunately, Mayor Baker is as clueless as I am. And we cannot expect much better from whomever gets stuck being Mayor of Wilmington after the November election.
Few would want to admit this, but at one time there was a good plan for curbing violence in the city. It was put in place by Governor Charles Terry. Following the riots sparked by the death of Dr. King in 1968, Terry placed the National Guard in Wilmington. The rioting stopped of course, but the troops remained. In the fall election that year, voters selected both a Republican governor and mayor. The troops were removed, but so was the security blanket.
Am I suggesting placing Wilmington under martial law? No. But that seems to be the only option that we know would work. In addition, I do not believe the rise in violent crime is a sudden problem. I believe the problem has been growing since the early 70’s, but has been under-reported. Once the News-Journal and the final two Wilmington radio stations left town (WILM and WTUX), there were no media “eyes on the street.” Now, with nearly everyone having a phone/camera in their pocket, hiding crime is not so easy. Politicians can no longer pretend the problem does not exist. And the sad fact of life is that only a “police state” or martial law will reduce the out-of-hand crime.
Mike from Delaware
Mon, Jul 9, 2012 4:19pm
A possible solution is the "Giulliani" solution. The County police and City police should team-up and coordinate their efforts and crack-down on all lawbreakers, including those committing nuisance crimes in both the county and the city simultaneously.
The Giulliani solution would send a real wake-up call that from now on, the laws, all laws WILL BE ENFORCED. THEN do it. The idea is to chase those drug distributors, dealers, mules, etc., etc., out of both New Castle County and Wilmington. Let them relocate to Chester, or somewhere else out of Delaware. They'll move on to the path of least resistance along I-95. So what that tells us is as of now, Wilmington and New Castle County are that path of least resistance. Time to change that.
Today NYC has a lower crime-rate per capita, based on things I've read, than Wilmington. How pitiful is that?
Enough talk and fooling around. Time to start enforcing all the laws. Start enforcing aggressive driving, speeding, tailgating, pedestrians on median strips at intersections panhandling, panhandling on sidewalks or in front of stores, pedestrians crossing highways not at cross-walks or crossing when the walk-light is flashing 'Don't Walk', or pedestrians walking in streets where a sidewalk is available, driving on the shoulders, spitting on the sidewalk, loitering, littering, music blasting so loud from a car that even with your windows closed you can hear it quite well, graffiti, etc., etc.
Make it so the criminals will go somewhere else, since we'll never be successful in ending the drug trade (far too much money to be made). So let's encourage them do that stuff somewhere else. It's time to retake the land.
Make the paperwork for cops less of a hassle and burden, so they have an incentive to go after the nuisance crimes rather than look the other way. Also if not headed toward an emergency, THEY TOO MUST DO THE SPEED LIMIT. No bubble gum lights flashing, they do the speed limit like the rest of us. They should be a good example for all others, than when responding to a police call of some sort.
Also, the community-policing thing is needed in Wilmington where there are cops on foot or on horse plus the car patrols. This way, the on foot/horse cops get to know people in their neighborhood and the people there get to know them.
Maybe the folks there will start to trust the cops again. THAT is part of the problem. The people in those high crime areas don't trust the cops, so they tell the cops very little (the criminals are counting on that), whereas IF they trusted the cops, they'd be the eyes and ears and would help in catching some of the criminals. Maybe having fewer white cops and more minority cops in those inner-city neighborhoods that generally are more minority-heavy in population, especially the on foot/horse cops, would help in this.
Those are a couple of real suggestions. One has already been done in NYC with great results. The other is old school beat foot cop patrols from the 1930's and 40's. It worked well then as folks got to know their local cop and trusted him, and that approach should work again today. Lord knows what we're doing now isn't working.
Now will anyone with any authority take a serious look at either of these ideas? Probably not, because to do so means what they've been doing hasn't worked. No executive ever admits to making a mistake or not having had an effective plan.
So instead of doing either, they'll just do nothing and only talk and do a lot of hand-wringing. Most folks in the city are not criminals, and shouldn't have to be in fear of getting shot. Those of us in the suburbs shouldn't have to fear those same criminals moving out to the suburbs either, and make no mistake they have. It's only a matter of time before we start hearing gunshots in the glorious suburbs too.
So I again implore both the County and City to work together and eliminate this blight from NCC and Wilmington.
Mon, Jul 9, 2012 7:36pm
From what I read in Delaware Online (News Journal), apparently some of the spectators were armed because it said they shot back at the shooters. I'll bet they never expected to run across any armed citizens, which is something they'll need more of to fight back at the problem.
At this point, Mayor Baker is irrelevant and they should proceed with whatever solutions they're going to use without him.
Mon, Jul 9, 2012 9:19pm
ANNOUNCEMENT: While this isn't directly related to the above subject matter, it's still relevant as it has to do with jobs, and lack of jobs is partially being blamed for the rise in violent crimes. So, I have some important info to pass on to anyone you know may be a good candidate.
Amazon.com is opening a new warehouse in Middletown this fall, and they're having a job fair this coming Saturday at Embassy Suites, 654 S. College Avenue in Newark. Anyone interested should apply online at www.workatamazonfulfillment.com.
I believe these are good jobs with a future for any young person who needs to get started in life. No college required, just high school diploma or GED. Please pass on this info to your social circles.
Tue, Jul 10, 2012 9:28am
mrpizza - think about your comment..."I'll bet they never expected to run across any armed citizens, which is something they'll need more of to fight back at the problem." I have a high level of doubt that those packing had a conceal carry permit. I am guessing those who shot back were just as law abiding as those who started. My guess is also those who shot back have disappeared into the ether.
Tue, Jul 10, 2012 9:22pm
Arthur: Legal or not, they got 'em!
Add your comment: Attention: In an attempt to promote a level of civility and personal
responsibility in blog discussions, we now require you to be a member of
the WDEL Members Only Group in order to post a comment. Your Members
Only Group username and password are required to process your post.
You can join the WDEL Members Only Group for free by clicking here.
If you are already a member but have forgotten your username or password, please
Please register your post with your WDEL Members Only Group username and password below.