Scott City killing at Red Gate puts focus on patrols

Sunday, July 25, 2004

A week after a stabbing left a young man dead and another young man in the Scott County jail facing murder charges, there's plenty to talk about in Scott City.

A week ago, Chad Chaney, 23, was stabbed in the chest defending his cousin Donald Brooks from a knife attack. Some young people who were attending a party in a remote area known as Red Gate said that Robert Grant, 21, came there uninvited and looking for a fight.

Others who believe Grant acted in self-defense said he was invited and that one of the stabbing victims invited him. Grant's supporters say that the stabbing happened after some of the revelers jumped him and hit him repeatedly in the face with a rock.

What actually happened will eventually come out in court testimony. What is known now is that Grant had a knife and he used it, Chaney is dead and Grant is in jail.

Some Scott City residents feel that should have put an end to the parties in the Red Gate area on County Road 301 near the SEMO Port Authority and in the city limits.

Cathy Blankenship of Scott City has already stated that underage drinking and loud parties go unchecked, and that the police allow it to happen.

"These kids are running this town," Blankenship said.

The infamous Red Gate site has a long-standing reputation as a party place. It is close to a quarry that is still in use. The name of the site comes from a gate that blocks off a private road that leads to a location where, in the past, dynamite was stored.

The Scott County Sheriff's Department manages the problems as Red Gate as best it can, Sheriff Bill Ferrell said.

"We go there every time our schedule will allow us," Ferrell said. "Some nights we only have one deputy for the entire county, and we go by whenever we're in that area."

Others in Scott City agree with Blankenship that young adults' parties aren't well-controlled, but the residents would not comment about the situation because they said they were afraid someone might retaliate against them, their property or their children.

Since last Saturday's incident, Blankenship said the parties have continued and the same people involved last week are still drinking and making a disturbance. They used to party in the apartment complex she lives in, she said. Now, most of the problem has moved to Mary Street.

Scott City police chief Don Cobb said there have been some complaints of underage drinking and other illegal activities on Mary Street, but he said the idea that Scott City is being taken over by underage drinkers is exaggerated.

"Any time we get a call on anything, a loud party or underage drinking, we certainly respond," Cobb said. "We certainly make every effort to bring anybody to justice who would be supplying alcohol to minors. For someone to say Scott City has a terrible problem, it would not be consistent with what I have seen as police chief."

Cobb consulted statistics that his department keeps on the number of calls made to his dispatcher for assistance. The most frequent calls he said his department receives in any month are complaints about careless and imprudent driving. The second most frequent complaint is about suspicious people. If anyone in Scott City has any information or any complaints about underage drinking, Cobb said, he urges them to call him.

To emphasize that Scott City responds to reports of underage drinking, Cobb made available an inmate serving 270 days in the Scott City jail for supplying alcohol to a minor, among other charges he was found guilty of.

Scott Robins, 27, of Scott City, voluntarily said he knows firsthand that Scott City police mean business; they picked him up twice in two weeks. He and some minors were driving around and drinking. He was the only one in the car over 21.

"They don't play around here," Robins said. "I learned my lesson on that one."

Before he was convicted, Robins said, he was a machinist for Blair Industries. He has since lost his job and his home. He recently began serving his sentence and entered a 30-day rehab treatment program.

Cobb said his department is not flooded with complaints about underage drinking, but it does respond to the calls it gets.

"We're dealing with Mary Street and a number of different situations," he said. "Scott City is a wonderful place to live. In any population, there's going to be people who create problems."

At the Mid Town Cafe in Scott City, a group of women sat at a table smoking and talking about the situation. They agree with Cobb, that there are problems, but no more problems than any other town.

"A bunch of people don't have anything better to do than cause trouble in this town," said Sonjia Stotler, who owns the cafe. "I don't think it's so bad."

" I think Scott City needs something for kids to do," said customer Christina Harper of Scott City. "Young kids don't have anything to do."

Stotler said that youngsters once gathered by the caboose on Main Street, but were discouraged from congregating there. They go out to the Red Gate area, she said, because it's secluded and they don't bother anyone there. It's impossible to patrol that area round the clock, she said. There are only so many deputies available.

"It's not any worse here than it is in Cape Girardeau, Jackson or Benton," she said. "Kids will be kids. There will be parties; there's just no way to stop it."

lredeffer@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 160

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