LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A shooting at Murray Park in Little Rock marks the second shooting in a city park in just two weeks.
10-year-old Ja’Aliyah Hughes was killed March 13th after a shooting in Boyle park, with this second incident happening just 8 days later.
This series of violent crimes as well as their locations has some neighbors concerned about the safety of area parks.
On any Monday afternoon, the Murray park dog park is crowded with both people and pups looking to let off some steam and enjoy the sunshine. But just yards away from the wagging tails is an asphalt parking lot – the scene of a shooting Sunday afternoon.
Little Rock resident Chance Buchanan was there that day, heading home just thirty minutes before shots rang out. He says he saw a caravan of cars heading into the park before he left. “We were here for about an hour and as we left, we just heard all of this commotion,” he said. “Hearing about yesterday broke my heart because this is the happiest place in Little Rock.”
The incident is disturbingly similar to a shooting in Boyle park across town just days before, which took the life of a 10-year-old girl. The Murray park shooting left one man injured and police are still searching for a suspect. Now, some neighbors are eyeing their parks after two violent crimes in a row.
But the Little Rock Police Department says it’s still ok to enjoy the outdoors. “City parks are still safe,” said Public Information Officer Mark Edwards. “They’ve always been safe.”
The Department is planning on making sure shootings like this don’t become a disturbing trend, something an increased police presence will help with. “We’ve actually increased our focus everywhere, but we definitely want to make sure we get a point of emphasis on the parks,” said Edwards.
For Buchanan, that’s exactly what he wants to see. He says in the 6 years he’s been visiting the park he hasn’t seen too many officers patrolling the area, something he hopes will change.
“There’s really no police presence,” said Buchanan, “I don’t see a cop drive through here.” Another suggestion from park-goers involved adding additional lighting to darker areas of the park, in order to deter nighttime crimes.