'I don't have a crystal ball': LPD responds to criticism surrounding weekend shooting at funeral

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Posted at 6:54 PM, Jun 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-06 19:25:14-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — On Saturday, a funeral service for Malcolm Long, who was shot and killed two weeks ago, was held.

During the funeral, another man, Joseph Richardson, was shot and killed right outside.

Several LEX 18 viewers questioned why LPD didn't do more to prevent this tragedy.

After a groundbreaking for a new LPD Roll Call facility, we asked Police Chief Lawrence Weathers to respond to criticism that police should have anticipated the shooting and had a presence at the funeral, given the recent string of violence in the city.

Chief Weathers responded saying LPD does not provide security for funerals and they can direct people to a security company to hire.

However, he said if someone has verified or additional information that violence may occur and they request extra patrol, it will typically be provided.

In that case, he said units already scheduled patrol in that area would pay more attention to the situation in question.

LPD said no requests for extra patrols were made for this weekend's funeral.

"I don't have a crystal ball, you know?" Chief Weathers said. "We have to rely on people to verify stuff."

He said that takes community buy-in. He said people must speak up about what's going on so police can be proactive in preventing violence.

"These things aren't happening in a vacuum," he said. "They are not random. People know about them before they happen."

"I believe we are at a point where we have to tell the community, you need to help us!" Mayor Linda Gorton, who was also at the groundbreaking, said.

"There are people in the community who know about these shooters and they're fearful about giving information and the city can't do this by ourselves. We just can't. We need the help of people who are living in the neighborhoods and who know the facts and the information about the shooters, the gangs, the retaliations, and the disagreements that people are having. These are not unknown to people in these communities and so we have got to have a more community-inclusive effort to solve this. Government cannot solve this by itself."

Mayor Gorton said the city is actively working on the problem but government alone cannot solve it.

"This is not something that the police, Mayor, and councilmembers are going to be able to fix alone," Weathers said. "They need other people to step up and step in. Not just reporting things but we have got people to step up and be leaders in their community to try to deter or try to intervene in some of this that's happening."

As for calls that police aren't doing enough, Weathers said that is untrue.

"Our officers are out there 24/7," Weathers said. "They're doing everything they can. Yea, we're short-staffed but they still go above and beyond. For the people who say that I'm just going to tell ya we just can't be everywhere at once. If they expect us to show up and be at places and know when things are going to happen, that's just unrealistic. Our officers are always out there. They risk their own safety to do that."

The Mayor has also faced criticism.

In an interview Sunday, community member Gerald Young said he is frustrated with her leadership.

"What funeral has she been to?" Young asked. "When has she shown her face at a funeral and said, 'Enough is enough?'"

LEX 18 asked Mayor Gorton about the criticism that she needs to be more involved.

"Whenever I have an opportunity like the vigil last week and the orange day for gun violence, I'm a participant in those," she responded. "I was not invited to this funeral. Funerals are different because usually, it's family and friends. I would not go to that funeral and speak about gun violence if I weren't invited there. That's different. I speak everywhere I can about gun violence. People heard me say in front of the courthouses, 'this has got to stop'. This is ridiculous and it's going on across our country and government can only do so much. We spend a lot of resources and a lot of people working on this very issue so what I'm looking for from our community who have to be part of this is ideas, programs that are proven to work, and things like that, people to come forward in shootings when they know factual information. We can work with that."

She also said while local government can't influence gun laws, she is in favor of background checks.

"I do not understand at all why people are opposed to background checks, for example," she said. "That's pretty easy, isn't it? Some folks would say, 'well, a background check won't necessarily help with someone who is a criminal who wants to get a gun illegally,' but it will help a little bit. Every one of these things we can do helps a little bit more and if you are buying a gun for someone who has criminal intent with it, you would be on the record as buying it and having a background check. I'm supportive of that sort of thing but we don't have any control over it here in Lexington."

Lexington Police says if you have information that a crime may occur, you can call Crimestoppers anonymously at (859) 253-2020. Extra patrols can be requested at (859) 258-3600.