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Little Rock mayor 'angered' by shootings, will steer $1M toward violence prevention

Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr.{ } (KATV file photo){ }
Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. (KATV file photo)
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Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. on Monday announced that he will steer at least $1 million in funds from the federal American Rescue Plan Act toward violence prevention efforts in the city.

The announcement comes after three people were killed over the weekend, adding to a 13 percent increase in violent crime this year, according to police data.

Scott said in a written statement that he'll propose to the city Board of Directors that the money be used to fund a "comprehensive team of independent community specialists that will work to combat youth violence." The money is part of about $19 million in pandemic relief funds the city received this year. President Joe Biden signed the legislation in March.

Scott said in the statement that the homicides over the weekend left him "extremely saddened and angered." One person was fatally shot outside a Dave & Buster's on the city's west side. Another was shot to death outside a liquor store. A third person was killed Sunday night on Mabelvale Plaza Drive.

"We must employ strategies that intervene before a gun is cocked," Scott said in the statement.

Paula Pate was helping customers across from Westside Wine and Spirits Saturday when 60-year-old Daniel Dunnahoo was killed. "

"I kind of walked to the front to show somebody something, and then I saw all the red lights so I thought it was a fire and then somebody came in the door and said 'No, somebodies been shot,'" Pate said. "We couldn’t see anything and then we were looking for security around here and we couldn’t find any security."

Pate does design at Antique & Vintage Gallery in the TjMaxx shopping center near the liquor store on North Rodney Parham Road. Police later identified Patrick Brown as the suspect, he’s charged with capital murder.

"It’s actually very scary," Pate said. "From what I understand, I don’t think that liquor store, since we’ve been here three years this July, I don’t think they’ve ever been robbed."

The Little Rock Police Department reported at least 50 crime calls for the area to the FBI since the start of 2021. While most are along the lines of burglary, larceny and theft, at least nine of the reported incidents involved aggravated assault.

Pate said they see people stealing from other nearby stores all the time, and she wished LRPD had more of a police presence in the area.

"The only time we see them is when a couple of stores down for us are being robbed, they’ll call them, but they don’t get here on time," Pate said.

Pate said there used to be a security guard that drove through the parking lot, but they haven’t seen him in a while. She would like to see him come back.

"I would feel safer and I think everybody else would too," Pate said. "A lot of people don’t come to this area because of all the crime they say goes on."

Scott also announced that the city hired a social worker to work alongside Little Rock police officers and "respond to issues that may be better suited for a mental health professional."

Shootings and killings are up around the nation, with local politicians and police struggling to manage the violence that has ballooned since the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden recently announced new efforts to stem the tide of violence. His plan focuses on providing funding to cities that need more police, offering community support and cracking down on gun violence and supplying illegal firearms.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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