Arrests Halt Latino-Targeted Robberies

After a recent string of robberies targeting Latinos in Ridgeland, Lt. John Neal of the Ridgeland Police Department said that police had arrested the suspects and that the incidents should now stop.

On May 8, police arrested Irving Blake, 21, Dewayne Neal, 22, Dewight Neal, 22, and Jocelyn Alexander, 21, for allegedly stealing a wallet belonging to a Hispanic Oakbrook Apartments resident.

Neal said the suspects "were actually apprehended still on the scene."

"There were some witnesses that were there who were able to provide good information to us and were able to put us in the direction of an apartment that these guys went back to," he said.

Neal said the officers on the scene recovered a large amount of cash, matching in denomination and amount to what the victim claimed was missing.

However, the money has not been returned, and will be held as evidence until the district attorney authorizes its release.

On June 9, Neal said witnesses spotted suspects in another armed robbery targeting Latinos the night prior to the robbery.

"They had been observed … riding through an apartment complex that has a large Hispanic population that night," Neal said. "When the grounds security people approached them, they left in a vehicle, but as they were leaving they tossed out a gun. So when the incident happened, the following night we had the same vehicle description (and) we felt like it was the same guys."

The victim of the armed robbery in June, a Latino male, has not yet received compensation, and Neal says that "chances are all that money has been spent already." Neal also said that the victim was referred to a victims compensation program in the event of his financial loss.

Neal said the two recent robberies resemble a series of crimes that occurred in Jackson and Ridgeland in the summer of 2005. In those crimes, which also targeted Latinos, the Jackson Police Department apprehended suspects, and similar robberies ceased until the recent activity in Ridgeland.

Though the Ridgeland Police has arrested suspects, Neal said that officers are in constant contact with residents and businesses in the area that cater to the Latino community in Ridgeland.

"We are making frequent contacts, those store owners, letting them know that if there is somebody that frequents their store that may be fearful of talking to the police as a victim, to please, please don't let that hamper them from reporting being a victim of a crime."

A representative from Oakbrook Apartments could not be reached for comment on safety measures.


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