by Tony E. Rutherford, News Editor
Huntington's men in blue rallied to oppose staff cuts in January
Huntington's men in blue rallied to oppose staff cuts in January

Compelling incidents dominated the public forum portion of Wednesday's special Huntington City Council meeting.

"I'm not going to run or move," said Toi Wilson a 31-year-old speaker before council. "We're killing our own. Everybody hear me now. Stand up or shut up. Call (the police) when you see ... dope or prostitutes on the street."

That's one of the best short term solutions which came from the emotional yet orderly "hearing" on the surge in violent crime --- in particular homicides --- in the city.

The arrest within hours of suspect  Antwon Starkey who allegedly shot Kafredrick Mceachin near the Huntington Mart on Hal Greer Blvd. came with assistance from residents talking to the police. One report indicated that the shooter called and told police where to come and arrest him.

Neighbors and WCHS have reported that the shooting has its roots back to the shooting of a 14-year-old girl last week that resulted in a lengthy Fifth Avenue standoff. Multiple sources told WCHS that Starkey is the victim's  step father. 

Huntington Police Captain Hank Dial did not confirm a connection. He did admit a "close proximity" of time and place, though.

Kim Scarberry told of calling and asking that the Huntington Police arrest her son, who had "stolen everything of value (and) left a mess" from her. She did not receive a return call. But, "I buried my son two months ago."

Ms. Scarberry told that her son OD'ed at 117 Bridge Street. "They narcaned him," she said, then, "four days later I found him (dead) in the bathroom."

Wilson said she knew two of the shooting victims, adding that circumstances go beyond any code of the "hood."

In her words, she stated:

"Y'all want the police officers to do their job?” she said, “do your job and help them. Call when you got the dope man living next door. Call when you got the prostitute on your front porch. Call when you see someone laid out on the street. You better call someone. You better do something."

In addition, during discussion of Narcan and the needle exchange program,  a speaker with a statistics background asked that calls for discontinuation of these programs be halted. He brought and cited statistics beyond Huntington indicating that the city would be in much worse condition without the use of these programs.

David "Alligator Jackson" Williams spoke to council too, revealing that his neighbor on the other side of the wall was just murdered:

"My neighbor was murdered Monday morning. She was brutally killed on the other side of my living room wall just yards from where my family was watching TV. I saw my neighbor and spoke to her in the parking lot everyday.

This is the second murder in a year in my apartment building. Last year a teenager was stabbed to death upstairs. This time last year I stood in this same spot and told this council that laying off police officers would lead to this.

Now, here we are.

These police officers do a great job, but we don't have enough. They are overworked and overly  stressed. They are in danger because 89 officers are not enough. You say we need 103 officers. That's not even enough. We need 123 or 133.

Where do we get the money? I don't know...that's your job. You campaigned for this job you come up with the ideas

Williams , an addictions counselor,  added, "We just  have eight detox beds. That is not enough ...people are dying waiting on a bed. We aren't effectively fighting the supply or the demand. We are just spinning our wheels."

 An online poster wrote:

"I can't keep up with the shootings, murders, drug dealers, addicts, robberies, turf wars, political lies, etc. Several (shooters) are definitely (from) Detroit & Columbus. There's  so many, it's tough to keep up with all of them. "