Less than 12 hours into its effort to reduce gun violence, the Pensacola Police Department is having an impact. Officers have found caches of firearms and drugs.
Around 10:30 p.m. Friday, officers responded to Highland Drive after a male confronted a resident while armed with a handgun. The woman said the male approached her vehicle after she backed out of a driveway, and confronted her while holding the gun. Fearing for her safety, she accelerated her vehicle to escape and the man fled. Mercado found the suspect on Sixth Avenue near Tunis Street. The suspect turned toward Mercado, fired one shot and fled the area on foot.
Sgt. Stephen Bauer, who is coordinating the operation for the department, said the suspect is wanted for attempted murder on the officer and aggravated assault. The suspect was described as a black male, thin build and wearing dark pants and a dark jacket with a hood.
During a K-9 track for the suspect, officers smelled marijuana coming from a residence in the 3000 block of North Torres Avenue. A search of the home resulted in the seizure of six firearms – one of which was stolen – and approximately 425 grams of marijuana. One person was arrested for possession of marijuana with intent to sell and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Also during the operation, officers saw several people gambling in the area of the Fricker Center, 900 North F St. Two males were charged with possession of cocaine, possession of marijuana and gambling.
Pensacola Police Chief David Alexander announced the Violent Crime Suppression Operation on Friday morning in a press release.
“We’re doing this because we must remain vigilant in keeping our streets and neighborhoods safe for all of our citizens, especially during the holidays when everyone wants to be able to celebrate with family and friends,” he said in the release.
In October, Inweekly was the first to report on the rise of homicides. The City of Pensacola had experience seven murders in 2016, five since July 1.
Four years ago, when a similar rise in homicides and gun violence occurred, Mayor Ashton Hayward and then Police Chief Chip Simmons called a press conference and announced more cops would be put on the streets. This year, Pensacola City Hall had been silent. Chief Alexander told the Pensacola City Council that there was little that could be done about the rise in gun violence.
Fortunately his attitude has changed. Chief Alexander has committed to saturate areas within city limits at various times and days in the near future in an effort to address an increase in gun violence.
Since September 11, there have been at least 10 incidents reported where people heard gun shots and/or people were shot.
PPD asks that anyone having information on the attempted murder of the police officer is asked to contact the Pensacola Police Department at 435–1900 or Crime Stoppers at 433–STOP. Callers can remain anonymous.