By Peg McNichol
A series of escalating confrontations on South Hanover Street led to the shooting of a man Sunday evening.
As police inspected a car damaged during the shooting and tried finding the victim as well as the gunman — both had left the scene — people living on the street fumed.
The shooting victim, a 27-year-old man, made his own way to Southeast Missouri Hospital, where he was treated for a gunshot wound in his right thigh, according to Sgt. Barry Hovis, spokesman for the Cape Girardeau Police Department. Police are not releasing the man's name because no one had been arrested for the shooting at press time.
"We believe it's from an ongoing dispute that had occurred at a dance at a rented hall over the weekend," Hovis said.
Neighbors — all of whom refused to identify themselves out of fear of harassment — said the man was one of many people in the 300 block of Hanover Street engaged in behavior so loud and unruly police were repeatedly called for help. Just after 6:40 p.m. a flurry of calls were made to the police, reporting the sound of multiple gunshots. Nearly 100 children live on the street.
Sgt. Dennis Horn, of the Cape Girardeau Police Department, said officers had been called to the neighborhood at least three times Sunday afternoon.
"Why not arrest them the first time out?" wondered the mother of two children, as she watched police examine a car, its windshield shattered by bullets.
"When they're street fighting ... If you see a problem starting to happen and you don't do anything, it's escalating, escalating, escalating and then you get this," she said, pointing to the crime scene.
Hovis said the neighbors' fury over Sunday's shooting on Hanover Street is understandable, but that police officers must abide by the law when responding to complaints.
"You want to take care of those issues, but unless there's criminal infraction, you don't have any power to bring someone in unless there's an arrest to be made," he said.
Two women were arrested for disturbing the peace.
Hovis said another obstacle to making arrests in such highly charged situations is that the people who call to complain don't want to be identified or sign police reports, fearing retribution.
Investigations, Hovis said, take slightly longer because people with information don't want to be seen talking to police, though they may telephone the police department information.
"We'll have a lot of people call after the fact and they'll be forthcoming," he said.
Police continue to investigate Sunday's shooting and asked that anyone with information about the South Hanover street shooting or any crime call 335-6621 or 332-0500.
For more on this story, check back at www.semissourian.com or read Monday's Southeast Missourian.