OPELIKA, Ala. (WRBL) – Opelika police say a feud between two groups of teens has sparked at least seven shootings since February and a growing concern someone is going to get injured or killed. Investigators believe the rash of back-and-forth shootings began when two teens got into a physical fight that escalated into gun violence with no end in sight.
“They are not considered gangs, just two different friend groups that don’t like each other. Their angst has arisen to the level of shooting at one another and their families,” said Opelika Police Chief Shane Healey.
The first shooting was reported on February 20th along Cherry Avenue. Five teens between 16 and 18 were arrested on various gun charges. The feud settled for a few months. Then, on July 8th, along Avenue A, three 16-year-olds were arrested for shooting into an occupied dwelling and other charges but not before getting into a vehicle chase with police. The vehicle, occupied by three juvenile suspects, sped off and crashed into another vehicle at the intersection of 2nd Avenue and North 8thStreet. Two suspects fled the scene, and the driver was taken into custody. Officers located the two juveniles a short time later.
“We are worried someone is going to get hurt. Fortunately, in this series of shootings, nobody has been hurt yet, but our concern is at some point, that is going to change, and it’s going to be an innocent person or a young child that may be in one of these homes,” said Chief Healey.
Another three shootings were reported in July with no arrests, with shots fired into homes. Those shootings happened between July 20th and 23rd in the 400 block of S. 5th Street, the 300 block of Wittel Avenue, and the 100 block of 18th Place. The latest shooting was reported Sunday, August 28th, with two 16-year-olds and a 17-year-old arrested for shooting into an occupied dwelling along Toomer Street.
Investigators believe with each shooting; others are pulled into the feud.
“We have met with parents, talked to pastors and community leaders, and asked them to come forward and help us calm the situation between these two groups. But, unfortunately, even though we have made 12 arrests of juveniles for various gun charges, shooting into houses charges, drug charges, and gun possession charges, it still continues,” said Captain Jonathan Clifton.
Police are asking for the community’s help; if you see something suspicious, or have any information, please the Opelika Police Department Detective Division at (334) 705-5220 or the Secret Witness Hotline at (334) 745-8665. Tips can be submitted through the Opelika Police Mobile App. You can remain anonymous.