Wednesday afternoon, new Savannah/Chatham Metro Police Chief Jack Lumpkin issued the following statement on the shooting death of two-year-old Kiaja Smalls, when her Southside apartment was apparently intentionally targeted in a driveby shooting:
Regrettably, the fatal shooting of a 2-year-old child last night exemplifies our worst fears about the evolving criminal activities we have been seeing in our community – the very real possibility of innocent victims being injured. Her death is tragic and horrific for this community and our police department.
I can think of no one more innocent than a 2-year-old girl peacefully sleeping in her family’s living room.
This is an active investigation and our first priority is to protect that investigation and bring the perpetrators to justice. I pray our objective is shared by this community. So the information we release will be guarded. The child, Miss Smalls, was struck by two of the bullets fired into the family’s apartment from close proximity. There is no doubt that this specific apartment was targeted. Other than that and the information already released by the department, we will not be able to comment further on the specifics of this case.
BUT, this case needs to become the catalyst to a change in attitude towards crime for much of our community. We have talked about the need for this community — ALL members of this community – to work together to make us all safer. I have no doubt that there are people in our neighborhoods that know who committed this heinous crime and why.
We know some people do not come forward because they are involved in criminal activity themselves.
Some do not come forward because they are associated by family or other means to those who commit crimes.
And others do not come forward because they fear retribution from those who are committing these crimes.
It is the latter two groups I want to address first: If you are not working with us to combat this criminal activity, you are enabling, empowering and even encouraging the criminals through your silence! Experience tells us that a very small segment of a community is committing these crimes. But that small element is holding the rest of us hostage! They cannot threaten all of us.
We need members of our community to come forward: If you know something – or even THINK you know something – SAY Something! We are constantly and consistently encouraging all citizens to call us – either through CrimeStoppers or the confidential detective line or even calling 911!
Recently, many of our community’s faith based leaders have offered to take information from residents and relay it to police. Please take advantage of these faith leaders’ offer and USE them! We should not allow another innocent person to be traumatized, injured or killed due to our inactions.
Talk to us! Your police department is doing all it can but it cannot do it alone. Your officers have been working overtime, double time and on special units for months. They will relentlessly continue to do so to make us all safer.
Today, I reached out to state and federal authorities to ask if they can provide more help than they already do. This is not because our officers are not doing all they can or do not have the competence to police this community – it is simply a matter of numbers. Every police department needs more resources and we all pay state and federal taxes. Those state and federal agencies have a history of assisting when requested and we are awaiting word of what they can do to help us. I feel certain they will respond positively.
In the meantime, it is up to us the police and you – the citizenry. The citizens and the police of this community have the resources we need to control this activity IF … IF … IF we work together. I am asking you as citizens, to begin assisting and helping us maintain your public safety.
Ladies and gentlemen, remember, every child in our community should have the right to an environment absent illegal gun acts, gangs and drug violence.
If you won’t do it for yourselves, please do it for your children.