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Aug 9, 2011 10:28 AM by Lauren Wilson & AP

Welsh residents express fears of retaliation

WELSH, La. (AP) - In the wake of the recent slayings of two men, a rash of shootings and other violent crimes, hundreds of residents in Welsh are gathering to discuss how to keep violence from spreading.
The American Press (http://bit.ly/pqeUU0) reports more than 200 people, including city leaders and law enforcement, attended last week's meeting hosted by the Welsh Citizens Concerned for Public Safety.
"It makes us frightened," said Pat Love, a Welsh resident, of the rise in crime. "We have had two murders here and no consequences for the people who committed the murders. They know they don't have consequences, so the people are going to keep doing it, and they are going to get bolder and bolder."
"Shouldn't we feel protected in our community?" Theresa Meche asked. "It's not just happening on one side of town - it's the whole town. It's not racial. It's not black or white. It's all over town, and it's taking over."
Jim Wright said a lot of fear, anger and concern are brewing in the community and he urged residents to "channel" those emotions and organize programs such as neighborhood watch and Crimestoppers to help combat the problems.
"Sometimes we don't have the courage to report what we know because we are afraid," he said. "But we are not going to let it rest. We want the outcome to be a peaceful and tranquil Welsh.
"I urge everyone not to let it drop. If we let it drop, we deserve what we get."
Monica Zeno said many residents don't want to get involved for fear of retaliation. "Not a soul in this building is going to say one single word if they feel like what they say to the police department will be told to the person about what they said about them," she said.
Zeno said her aunt's car was burned under her carport and she believes it was because her aunt told police about people selling drugs on the corner near her house.
"So they (the criminals) made a statement to her," Zeno said.
Police Chief Tommy Chaisson said the rise in crime also worries him.
"I have a burning concern for this town, and we are doing everything we can. I beg and ask anyone with information to come tell us, and that information will be addressed," Chaisson said.
District Attorney Michael Cassidy said residents must cooperate with law enforcement, be willing to report crimes and testify against defendants if change is to occur.
"There are many officials here who are concerned about you and want to do whatever it takes to solve the problems, but we need your help," Cassidy said, assuring the group that their concerns have not fallen on deaf ears. "We want to make your community safe again."
The Rev. Jerry Jackson said, "If we never learn to stand up for ourselves and one another, it's going to continue. We can't depend on the police to do everything for us. Until we learn to stand up and take our place in society, things are going to continue."
Former Welsh Police Officer Marshal Jackson said the biggest problem is that residents are concerned only for themselves. He said everyone needs to get more involved.
Assistant Police Chief Donald DeLouche assured residents that police are investigating the homicides of Lorenzo Horne, 19, and Robert Craig King. 45. Those shooting deaths occurred five months apart. DeLouche said police are working with several agencies to run down leads and are relying on the public's help to report information about the crimes.

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