Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Columbia Unrest

The Examiner is stirring the pot these days on whether we do or do not have gangs operating in Columbia. The paper has published two stories quoting an anonymous former HoCo police officer saying investigators are well aware of who the troublemakers are. But officially, police seem to be playing down those accounts. Read the stories here and here.

Whatever the truth is, knowing who the bad guys are is not the same thing as bringing a halt to the trouble. What we've have been struck by is how the suspects arrested in several recent violent crimes here are no strangers to the legal system, which suggests the problem is far larger than a police matter.

Take for instance what the Sun said about Ronald Derrick McConnell,who has been charged with first- and second-degree murder, assault and reckless endangerment in the most recent OM shooting:

According to court records, McConnell is scheduled to stand trial next month on weapons charges, including possessing a firearm as a convicted felon. In 2005, he was convicted of second-degree assault and a handgun charge, court records show.

In 2006, McConnell was found guilty in Howard County of drug possession and concealing a deadly weapon, according to court records. McConnell's record also includes other charges involving violent crimes, including armed robbery, and animal cruelty.

Batts pleaded guilty in 2003 to carrying a handgun and drug possession in Montgomery County. He was convicted in Howard County in 2004 for marijuana possession and in 2005 for possessing drug paraphernalia.

The police met with residents to try to calm fears on Tuesday, and from the news reports we heard from a council member and other community leaders. Does anyone know if any state's attorneys or judges were there?

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