TPD calls for community cooperation in homicide probe

Hundreds in attendance, minimal information provided

Special to the Outlook

The Tallahassee Police Department is continuing to investigate a homicide that occurred around 2:45 a.m. last Saturday at 1143 West Orange Avenue.

It is imperative that witnesses come forward to provide information that can help solve this case and bring closure to the grieving family. While there were hundreds of people in attendance, very little information was provided by them. Anyone with information, including any photos or videos from the gathering, can contact TPD at 850-891-4200. Individuals can remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at 850-574-TIPS.

This incident is part of a multi-faceted issue occurring locally. Solutions to prevent similar outcomes require cooperation between the community and law enforcement.

Historically, many night clubs and bars maintain security and hire off duty officers in order to manage crowds during their operation. These private businesses allow law enforcement to patrol their premises and disperse – either through verbal request or a formal trespass – those who are not doing business at the private property.

COVID-19 has shifted nightlife activities, and recently, there has been an increase in crowds gathering in parking lots at both closed and open businesses throughout the city. Some locations have been more challenging to address, specifically those businesses that do not wish to close or give law enforcement the authority to clear their private parking lots.

Tallahassee Police Department is asking residents for assistance in solving a homicide that occurred at 1143 Orange Avenue last Saturday morning.
Photo courtesy City of Tallahassee

Legally, there are limits to police power on private business property. The State of Florida through the governor also recently rescinded the authority to police mass gatherings, further hindering officers’ ability to disperse crowds. When officers proactively patrol or get dispatched to locations for gatherings, the group often simply moves to another location in the city.

The incident that took place at approximately at 1143 Orange Avenue underscores why law enforcement must have the cooperation of private property owners and residents. Officers worked in the area throughout the late evening, conducting a traffic stop in the 1100 block of Orange Avenue, completing community policing business checks near midnight and receiving two noise complaints from neighbors due to vehicles in the parking lot of 1143 Orange Avenue. TPD received no calls for service from the business itself requesting to clear the private parking lot.

TPD has been proactively working to address nearby residents’ complaints regarding the area, which include reports of open manipulation of firearms, parking issues and suspected drug activity. TPD is also in continuous communication with several home owners associations in the area to hear first-hand from residents about issues and has recently hosted two in-person community conversations with residents of nearby Bond.

Currently, TPD’s Patrol Unit has asked for officers to work in an overtime capacity to attempt to deal with these “pop-up” gatherings, but enforcement is limited legally until either TPD is contacted by the business or there is a crime that has occurred, which gives authority.

It is vital for community safety and community health that businesses work with TPD to disperse these crowds prior to a tragic event occurring, as was seen last Saturday night. It is also imperative that residents take a stand against violence and share information that can help bring closure to these cases for the grieving families.

The homicide at 1143 Orange Avenue remains part of an active investigation, and updates will be provided as they become available.

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