Law enforcement investigators know cooperation from a crime victim or a witness of a crime can mean the difference in solving a case.
According to Dothan Police, officers typically respond to two to three shootings a month. The trend so far this year may change those statistics, and with the number of shootings increasing, investigators are also seeing the number of cooperative victims and witnesses decreasing.
Since March, at least nine people have been injured or killed by gunfire.
» March 8 -- Police responded to a shooting that sent one man to the hospital with a gunshot wound to the abdomen. Police initially responded to a report of a firearm assault at the intersection of Montana and Chickasaw streets, and soon learned the shooting actually occurred at the intersection of the 500 block of Wheat Street and the 900 block of Chickasaw Street before the victim fled to the other location.
» March 22 -- Dothan Police responded to a firearm assault in the 600 block of East Newton Street. Officers found the victim lying on the ground with two gunshot wounds. One of the shots entered his right shoulder and the other in his left thigh. During the investigation officers discovered that the assailant fired six or seven shots in the direction of the victim.
» March 29 -- A man pulled into Dothan Police Department parking lot with a gunshot wound. His vehicle was riddled with bullet holes. The victim suffered a gunshot wound to the abdomen.
» April 19 -- Investigators responded to Arlington Avenue where three men suffered gunshot wounds. One of the men died from his injuries. According to reports, an altercation between numerous people escalated and resulted in gunfire.
» May 4 -- Three people suffered gunshot wounds during a fight that occurred on Denton Road.
» May 5 -- Officers responded to a shooting near Dusy Street. The victim suffered a gunshot wound to the side. According to law enforcement the victim does not know who shot him, or why he was in the area at the time he was shot. Police charged Deneco Laquan Dean, 21, of Dothan, in the shooting after he was identified by the victim.
“We are looking at roughly 50 to 60 percent of the victims or individuals we interview as witnesses not cooperating,” said Dothan Police Sgt. Jason Adkins, supervisor of the Violent Crime Unit. “Now, a portion of the victims and witnesses we speak to really do not know who the suspect is. However, a portion of the victims and witnesses do know.”
The lack of cooperation can be frustrating, Adkins said.
Investigators are committed to investigating and solving every case, no matter the time frame.
“If a victim will not corporate with law enforcement, we can’t make an arrest,” Watkins said. “If a victim will not provide information regarding the violent crime and the suspect, we are looking at a 90 percent failure rate during court proceedings. We need victims and witnesses to cooperate, but most importantly, we need a victim and witness to tell us the truth. The more information we can retrieve during an investigation, the better chance we have of seeing a suspect being convicted of that crime.”
Although Adkins and Watkins also urge victims to never consider revenge as an option.
“We can’t confirm the reasons why a victim will not cooperate,” Adkins said. “Could it be the victim wants to handle the situation themselves? Well, there is that possibility. But that is the wrong way to handle it. A victim or anyone related to the victim of a crime should never take matter into their own hands. Let law enforcement handle the crime legally.”
According to Dothan Police Lt. Lynn Watkins, a majority of the shooting cases have resulted in an arrest or arrests. But there are still cases where no arrests have been made due to lack of witness cooperation, such as the January shooting death of 54-year-old Andrew Jones of Dothan.
“Mr. Jones’ case is an unsolved murder case,” Watkins said. “During the investigation it was determined Jones was walking down the street in the 500 block of West Powell Street when he was shot and killed by an unknown suspect. At this time there are no witnesses to crime. That’s why we are now offering a reward in this case. We want to see this case solved not only for Mr. Jones and his family, but for entire community. If anyone has any information regarding the murder of Mr. Jones, you are asked to contact law enforcement. This family is deserves to have this case solved for their loved one, so now is the time to provide information.”
Information can be provided to law enforcement in many ways. If someone wishes to remain anonymous that person may contact the Dothan Area Crime Stoppers (DACS) which is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to providing Dothan residents with a variety of ways to report observed criminal activity to law enforcement.
Anyone wishing to report crimes to DACS can do so through text, phone, or a website. None of the systems used will collect identifying information. To provide a tip by phone call 334-793-7000, to provide tip by text, text 274637, to provide a tip by email, send all information to www.tipsubmit.com.