Baker pastor calls for prayer gathering
BAKER — Baker Police Chief Mike Knaps and Baker Civic Club President Hazel Mitchell traded heated accusations Tuesday regarding the March 28 shooting at the club during a City Council meeting.
Three people, Marcell Franklin, 15; Kendal Dorsey, 15; and Diontrey Claiborne, 18, were killed in the shootings, while Javaughn Simmons, 19, survived and was hospitalized.
Baker police arrested accused shooter Nakeydran L. Williams, 16, and booked him with three counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted first-degree murder and one count of illegal use of a weapon.
Mitchell said Knaps called her April 2 to tell her that he was disappointed in her because of what happened at her club. Knaps also accused her of lying about whether the Police Department had informed her of his concerns about the party, she said.
“The police chief never contacted me,” she reiterated after the meeting.
According to Mitchell, police investigator Darryl Rainwater told former Baker Civic Club board member Janet Mosley that Knaps was worried about the party. Mosely brought the concern to Mitchell, who responded she was legally bound to the contract signed with the people holding the party.
“Our hearts are broken because of what happened in our city, in our club,” Mitchell said.
The flier advertising the party was widely circulated and “no one did anything to stop it because it was a birthday party. We have never shut down a birthday party,” she said.
“We did make an attempt to notify (the Civic Club) that we had concerns because of what was on the flier,” Knaps countered.
He added the Police Department did not have the authority to stop the party unless it was called.
“We did shut it down, but it was too late — it was after the shooting,” he said.
First Baptist Church of Baker Pastor Gary Richerson called for action in response to the shooting.
“Ten to 15 African-American kids come to services at our church and they are scared,” he said.
He asked people to come to the city of Baker sign at Magnolia Road and La. 19 at 7 a.m. Wednesday to pray for Baker.
“The problem is sin and it’s time to stand against it,” he said.
Beverly Turner, of Parents Against Violence Exposure, said the group has scheduled a walk at 10 a.m. Saturday beginning outside the Baker City Hall on Groom Road.
Councilwoman Joyce Burges suggested making the curfew time in Baker earlier to help deter teen violence.
She told the council that by city law, people ages 16 and younger are not allowed “in a public place or the premises of an establishment” between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
She asked the council to consider moving the beginning of the curfew to 10 p.m. on weeknights and making it a “parentally supervised curfew,” meaning that if juveniles are out in public at night, they must be accompanied by a parent.
Councilman Pete Heine expressed opposition to the idea.
“You can’t legislate morality,” he said.