Operation Christmas Presence kicks off in response to recent Sel - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Operation Christmas Presence kicks off in response to recent Selma violence

(Source: WSFA 12 News) (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Selma Mayor Darrio Melton discusses "Operation Chistmas Presence" (Source: WSFA 12 News) Selma Mayor Darrio Melton discusses "Operation Chistmas Presence" (Source: WSFA 12 News)
A 19-year-old man was shot and killed on Kayser Street. (Source: WSFA 12 News) A 19-year-old man was shot and killed on Kayser Street. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
A 17-year-old was fatally shot near Martin Luther King Jr. Street & First Avenue. (Source: WSFA 12 News) A 17-year-old was fatally shot near Martin Luther King Jr. Street & First Avenue. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News) (Source: WSFA 12 News)
SELMA, AL (WSFA) -

A new initiative is underway in Selma in the wake of a string of deadly events.

Investigators have launched investigations into the shooting deaths of a 19-year-old man and a 17-year-old boy after two separate incidents over the weekend. In response to the killings, city leaders unveiled "Operation Christmas Presence."

Selma Mayor Darrio Melton, Dallas County District Attorney Michael Jackson and members of the Selma Police Department outlined the new effort on Monday afternoon on the steps of city hall.

There will be an increased law enforcement presence in "hot spot" areas of the city that have been impacted by recent crimes throughout the remainder of the holidays.

"We will be focusing our attention on areas, of course, where these homicides happened but all these areas where we’ve been getting these shots fired calls, calls of suspicious activity, calls where break-ins have been happened. So we’ll be looking at various areas throughout the city," said Captain Johnny King, who is serving as Selma's interim police chief.

Additionally, a cash reward will be given to anyone who comes forward with information that leads to the arrest and conviction of someone who committed a homicide. The mayor hopes it will get more violent offenders off the streets.

"We had a horrendous weekend in regards to the violence throughout our community. Violence is at an epidemic high and so we’re putting measures in place to make sure that we address the violence throughout our city," Melton said. "We’re in the business of winning our city back. We’re asking all constituents and all citizens to work with us to help us police our community to make sure that our young kids can live here and whereby they don’t have to fear violence."

The first shooting happened around 9:20 p.m. Friday. Selma police officers responded to the 1900 block of Kayser Street after being notified about a suspicious car in the street. 

When the officers arrived, they found 19 year old Jaequan Simmons inside suffering from what appeared to be a gunshot wound, according to a press release from Selma Interim Police Chief Johnny King. 

The Dallas County Coroner pronounced the victim dead at the scene. Simmons graduated from Keith High School in 2015 and was a star on the basketball team.

The second shooting happened Sunday around 4:30 a.m. An officer with the Selma Police Department was at Vaughn Hospital's emergency room on an unrelated incident when he was flagged down at the entrance and notified about a person who had been shot and was inside a private vehicle. 

The victim, 17 year old Quadriquis Bell, was treated for his injuries but was later pronounced dead at 4:50 a.m. 

Cpt. King said initial reports are that the fatal shooting occurred near the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. St. and First Avenue. 

Detectives have launched investigations into both homicides.

No arrests have been made in either case.

"This is a time of year when families should be coming together and celebrating our blessings, not burying our babies," Mayor Melton said. "The violence we've seen in the past few days must come to an end."

Two weeks ago, someone threw a flammable cocktail at the home of a Selma woman and her special needs daughter.

44-year old Katrina Moore and her daughter 20-year old Coleman died when someone set their house on Pettus Street on fire.

Three others made it out of the home.

Investigators have no leads and no motive in the arson.

The mayor urged citizens to take a proactive role in the community.

"If you see something suspicious, say something to law enforcement," he added.

Dallas County District Attorney Michael Jackson stressed that intimidating a witness is also a felony offense, as is recruiting people for street gang membership.

"We’ve had several young people getting shot in the head lately. These gangs are getting out of control. They’re getting brave and bold," he said.

Jackson said several problematic areas authorities will be focusing on over the next few weeks include St. Phillips, Church Street, Smokey City, Valley Creek Apartments, George Washington Carver Homes, Selmont & the former Craig Air Force Base.

"We need the help of citizens. A lot of this stuff you all are posting on Facebook and all but pick up the phone and call the police department or call my office. We’re going to implement a lot of sweeps coming up. We’re going to target these gang members. We’re going to start putting a lot of pressure on them. They’re not going to be able to take a step out of their house without seeing the police," Jackson said.

Anyone with information pertaining to the crimes is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-866-44CRIME (1-866-442-7463). The Secret Witness Line is 334-874-2190. Selma detectives can be reached at 334-874-2125. 

Copyright 2016 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.

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