Abilene police say they have made progress in building mutual trust with residents of the Holiday Hills neighborhood since a child was shot in August.
Zackary McDaniel, 12, was shot in the head Aug. 6 on North 9th Street in what police said may have been a drug deal that went terribly wrong. Keegan Clark, 18, has been charged with pulling the trigger (i.e. injury to a child) and Christopher Mack, 22, is charged with tampering with evidence.
According to Taylor County District Attorney James Eidson, a grand jury decided not to press charges against McDaniel’s mother. Though McDaniel was in a coma for several weeks after the shooting, relatives claim he is no longer hospitalized.
“When the shooting occurred, it occurred in broad daylight, a little after 5 p.m. and the tragic thing is there wasn't a single 911 call placed…which speaks to decades of distrust between the police and that neighborhood,” Police Chief Stan Standridge said.
Holiday Hills is located in an area known for a high crime rate. Pastor Kenneth Carpenter of the Holiday Hills Baptist Church said the August shooting was a wake up call for residents.
“After the shooting, this whole neighborhood was humbled by the tragedy and you know we always say it could never happen here,” Carpenter said.
Abilene police held their first monthly neighborhood meeting at the church in February.
“I think for the first time in a long time, [Abilene police] have been very approachable and I hope that's reciprocated,” Standridge said.
Carpenter said Holiday Hills residents will no longer tolerate crime and are open to police officers' increased presence.
“This community does not want to live in fear and they know that they have a place to come, they have a voice and they can express that voice,” Carpenter said.
Standridge and Carpenter said the process of building trust with residents and reducing crime in the neighborhood could take years.