LITTLE ROCK (KTHV) – Even though there have been strides in the area near Arkansas Baptist College, the neighborhood took a tough step backwards Thursday night when a shooting claimed the life a young student.
Arkansas Baptist President Fitz Hill talked to the media Friday about this homicide, saying it’s driving him now to dig even deeper into his mission to improve this area. But he noted that he can’t do it without the community behind him.
It’s some father-daughter time on the stoop Friday evening for Connie and Earl Williams. They’ve lived in this house at 17th and Pulaski for more than 40 years, remembering the past fondly.
“There was Soul Brothers Record shop and Uncle T’s Grocery,” Connie Williams.
But current memories worry them.
“I heard gun shots and it sounded like it’s coming from that direction,” Connie Williams said.
Her father heard them too following a homicide near Arkansas Baptist College Thursday night, leaving a first-year student dead and college leaders fuming.
“Right now let’s just face it, let’s be very honest, black-on-black crime must be addressed and must be addressed within the community itself,” Arkansas Baptist College President Fitz Hill said.
Hill says he wants to meet with churches and neighborhood associations to tackle this problem.
“That was senseless, just to do that and to take the life of somebody,” Hill said.
He also wants to see more efforts, fixing up the neighborhood. The college has bought and renovated old, dilapidated homes and opened student-run businesses.
“Who wants to open up a business where there’s blight,” Hill said.
Back with the Williams, we talk about the future.
“I think the more we improve, the better it will be,” Connie Williams said. “I don’t think it will be like it was last night.”
“Sure it can get better,” Earl Williams said.
“And what’s it going to take?” THV’s Max Seigle asks.
“Coming together,” Earl Williams said.
“And you think this community can do that? THV’s Max Seigle asked.
“I know they can,” Earl Williams said.
Hill said one other important issue facing this community is father-less families and there must be a push for better parenting.
As for the homicide investigation, Little Rock police say the victim, Derek Olivier, and another student were changing a tire at the time of the shooting. A bullet did graze the other student but officials say he’s alright. As of Friday night, police had not made any arrests.