Authorities keeping ‘close eye’ on gang activity in Tangipahoa Parish after string of recent shootings

Published: Jul. 8, 2021 at 4:50 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 8, 2021 at 5:41 PM CDT
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HAMMOND, La. (WVUE) - Investigators in Tangipahoa Parish are looking into a number of recent shootings, including one in which a 69-year-old man was killed inside his home in a drive-by.

While it’s not known if any of these are gang-related, local law enforcement officials say they are keeping a close eye on gang activity.

Harry Hughes, 69, was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting on the night of the Fourth of July at his North 11th Street residence outside of Ponchatoula and police say it was not the first crime of that nature in the area.

Another area plagued by drive-bys recently is Hammond’s Mooney Park.

“It’s like the Fourth of July all the time in this area,” said Hammond City Councilman Devon Wells.

Wells is not talking about fireworks. Police are investigating two drive-bys in the last four months, including one in which two people were injured.

“The kids were playing basketball in the drive-by shooting, Wells said.

“A car came by and they fired rounds. A juvenile was shot in the leg we made an arrest,” said Hammond Police Chief Edwin Bergeron.

Bergeron says they’ve identified four different gangs that operate parish-wide.

“It’s juveniles who call themselves gangs and put these videos out,” Bergeron said.

The Tangipahoa Sheriff’s Office says gang activity was to blame for a home invasion in April on Range Road.

A Hammond homeowner fatally stabbed one of 4 suspects, 27-year-old Devon Mitchell. The other three were arrested. Now no one lives in this house.

But people in the neighborhood are taking precautions. One neighbor has installed a number of cameras and walks around with a weapon in his hand.

“I thought it was a tragedy because I’m right here by it,” said a neighbor.

Hammond police say they are cracking down and have seized 75 weapons, including 10 assault rifles since the first of the year.

“I think they’re loosely organized and they’re getting more organized and they’re calling causing harm to the city,” Bergeron said.

Some blame covid, school closures, and a lack of things to do, but law-enforcement vows to continue their crackdown before the violence gets any worse.

Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Chief Jimmy Travis says he is working with the Hammond Police Department in effecting arrests and getting weapons off the street.

Police say a fatal shooting at the Hammond waffle house over the weekend is not believed to be gang-related.

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