Community concerned about safety after shooting near Huber Park

Lake Charles teen killed.
Published: May. 25, 2023 at 7:48 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - A community is sounding off on safety concerns after shots were fired Wednesday night at and around a local park.

The shooting took the life of an 18-year-old from Lake Charles, and now police are searching for an 18-year-old suspect. The victim was shot in the street right next to Huber Park while young athletes were getting ready for a baseball game at the fields.

“A bullet don’t have no name, not at all,” resident Keci Wheeler said.

When it comes to crime in this Lake Charles community, residents say shootings have happened too many times.

“We need it to be more safe for our babies, and for the elders too because they take their strolls too. They’re walking their dog,” Wheeler said.

Sheila Franklin has lived in the Huber park neighborhood for 23 years.

“It was very unfortunate that we had a a full house of people in the neighborhood at the park playing baseball, and how I heard that family, people were ducking and covering their children because of the gun violence,” said Franklin.

Rajanette Burke says she does not feel safe bringing her son to the park.

“I don’t really even bring my son to the park because I know a few months ago, it was raining and they were shooting at each other then, so I just don’t think it’s really safe for me to bring my son to the park, I don’t think it’s safe,” said Burke. “You never know what’s going to happen; there’s a lot of families, there’s a lot of kids around here, and it’s such a beautiful park and it makes no sense that you don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Many residents around Huber Park believe young people have easier access to weapons.

“We are part of America, where there are a lot of gun holders, ok, we have a right to bear arms,” said Jennifer Miller of Partners In Children’s Safety of Lake Charles, Inc. “Where are these guns coming from for these minors, how are these minors getting their hands on these guns?”

“It’s just a tragedy; these kids are getting these guns off the streets, I mean, they can get a gun quicker than I can,” said Franklin.

Burke said we need to teach people to walk away from conflict so they can live to see the next day.

“I just think we should teach our young people how to handle pressure better, how to really support each other when there is some type of pressure,” said Burke. “It’s not about being a coward because you walk away; it’s about seeing the next day, that’s what you want to do, you want to live, to see the next day. "

Authorities told us an altercation started at the Golden Nugget and continued near Huber Park, leaving Markell Jackson dead on 14th Street, one of the four streets surrounding the park. The football and basketball player had graduated from LaGrange High School just four days before.

According to the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office, investigators found evidence that multiple shots were fired in and around Huber Park. The victim was found in the street and brought to a local hospital, where he passed away.

“I’m very, very shocked. I mean, I’ve never seen or heard of a shooting close in my neighborhood here,” resident Tony Batiste said.

The concerned community is voicing their fears and asking what can be done to help decrease violence in the neighborhood.

“They could have police patrolling the area, like a neighborhood watch,” Wheeler said.

“I think we need a lot of police presence; I think we need a lot, especially the older generation to maybe talk a lot more to the youth about what’s going on today,” Batiste said.

Mayor Nic Hunter released a statement on the shooting, saying in part, “The city has been advised that security is routinely present but was not last night during this event. Young athletes deserve the opportunity to complete their ball season without fear. Law enforcement will be present at Huber Park for the final, remaining games.”

The Golden Nugget responded to the shooting with the following statement: “Two teens attempted to gain unauthorized access to our pool area and were asked to leave. They initially refused so security along with CPSO were called. Once the call was made, the two teens departed the property. We have no further details beyond that.”