State Attorney Speaks Out On Local Murders

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PANAMA CITY - Local State Attorney Glenn Hess says he's concerned about a string of deadly shootings in Panama City.

The four murders happened in a little less than three weeks, all within a mile area.

Hess believes some of it has to do with the current culture, "What used to be a fist fight has now become a gun fight. Fist fights you go home from, gun fights you go to the coroner."

That's how Hess sums up his feelings on three recent shootings.

Hess also says, "We're concerned about it. I think the police department has done a great job investigating each of them and it's one of those things where we've never seen this before and it is a great concern to everyone."

The first murder happened on May 24th, two men shot and killed outside the Hop 'N Pop convenience store in Millville.

Four days later Leonard Price was shot and killed on Carver Road in the Glenwood Community .

Then early Monday morning 20 year old J'shun Smith died from a head wound he received in the parking lot of KJ's Restaurant & Lounge on Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard.

Panama City Police are still looking for more clues and information in the KJ's shooting.

Major Kevin Miller from the Panama City Police Department said, "This did happen outside of a nightclub and there were several witnesses, potential witnesses a least in the parking lot and we're trying to find them and question them and just tighten up the case and complete the investigation and present a case file to the State Attorney's office with all the facts."

Hess blames what he calls a 'gang-like culture' portrayed on TV and in movies, "The thing about the gang culture is the community has to step up and say 'we're not putting up with this. I mean when you see kids running around wearing t-shirts with the name of their gang on the front of it like a softball team somebody's missing the picture here. And when an argument over nothing turns into a fatal shooting where you have a couple bodies on the ground, i mean that's just unheard of. It's terrible for the families and it's terrible for the community."

He's also worried these shootings will lead to more, "It's very simple, a gun is a status symbol, particularly among the convicted felons and those are the charges coming out these things. They love guns and they carry guns and when you carry a gun, you use it."

Panama City Police have arrested and charged suspects in both the Carver Road and KJ's Club shootings.