Samuel Boler
Samuel Boler
A motive in the Thursday night fatal shooting of a man near a crowded Westside Park during a youth baseball game has not been determined, the authorities said.

A Philadelphia man was charged in the murder, one of two in as many days and three since the first of the year.

Samuel Ykeem Boler, 22, is charged with the murder of Danny R. Peden, 25, of 262 Carver Ave., Peden was shot one time about 7:25 p.m. Thursday near the heavily occupied park, which sparked concerns from leaders in the African American community.

Boler remained in jail Tuesday. No bond had been set.

Peden was pronounced dead at Neshoba County General Hospital Thursday at 8:06 p.m., county medical examiner Allen Collins said.

In the second incident, Demetric Gray, 33, of 242 Gum St., was charged with murder and domestic violence/aggravated assault in the Saturday night stabbing death of Zuave Vennard Trice, 40, of 6774 Brown Mills Lake Road, Lithonia, Ga. (See story, page 9A)

The recent incidents have raised concern in the African American community, NAACP President Leroy Clemons said.

He said it was time for community members to stop talking and take action to save the younger generation from a life of crime on the streets.

Philadelphia Chief of Police Grant Myers said Boler turned himself in to investigators with the Mississippi Highway Patrol in Meridian about 10:20 p.m. Friday.

"We along with MHP investigators were in constant communications with his family members trying to make arrangements for him to turn himself in without incident," Myers said.

"The shooting occurred about 7:25 p.m. in Westside Park in the tennis court area," Myers said. "There was an off duty officer at the park at the time who heard the shot and responded within seconds. More officers and an ambulance were dispatched."

Chief Myers said the park was heavily occupied when the shooting occurred.

"There was a youth baseball game being played at the park at the time," he said.

Clemons challenged the city's African American community this week to use their influence on the younger generation to curtail crime in their neighborhoods.

"This is our future," he said. "Our own young men and women are doing this. It is not someone coming in here from out of town. It's the young men and women that we know personally. It's time to stop talking and take responsibly for our households and our children."

He said residents should stop expecting "someone to fly in and rescue us. It is happening in our community and it has to be resolved in our community."

While such groups as the Youth Coalition are working diligently to make the community a better place, Clemons said it was not enough.

Parents need to tell their teenagers to "put the guns down," he said.

"We need the men and the fathers to step up in this community and be men. We can't keep blaming everyone else and trying to be the victim. We are not victims. These are our own children. We need to quit letting them run wild and letting the street raise them," Clemons said.

He challenged the churches to get involved.

"The churches have got to step up and do what God has called them to do," Clemons said. "They need to get out from behind the four walls they worship behind each Sunday and get out in the community and help these young people. We have a church on every corner in the African American community. It's sad that we spend more time behind the four walls than outside changing people's hearts so these kids will have a fighting chance."

Another African-American woman who didn't want to be identified in the newspaper shared Clemons sentiments.

She said many residents of the northwestern part of the city couldn't afford to move elsewhere.

"People have become very concerned about the violence and are always looking toward Meridian," she said. "Are we getting out of hand like Meridian? Is it the guns and the new law? People feel like they are living in fear. Things are just getting out of hand with two deaths in one week and another a month or so ago."

She would like to see community members stop talking and start taking action.

"I don't know what is going to have to happen to make things better. Do we just give up and say the times have changed? I don't know."

Hours after the shooting near Westside, about 12:30 a.m., officers responded to a report of shots being fired into a house on Loper Street.

"No one was injured in the house," Myers said. "We believe this incident is connected to the [park] shooting."

A reward has been posted over Crimestoppers for information in connection with the shooting by calling 1-855-485-8477 or the Police Department at 601-656-2131.

"We are asking anyone in the community to come forward with information and any witnesses who might have seen anything in the park. We ask that they please come forward," Myers said.

Services for Peden will be held on Saturday at 1 p.m. from Jerusalem Temple. Elder Stan Jones will officiate. Burial will follow in Donald Rest Cemetery.  Beck Funeral Home, Inc. is in charge of arrangements.

Peden is survived by one daughter, Malaya Peden of Philadelphia; and his parents, Trina Peden Ratliff of Pascagoula and Philadelphia Police Officer Danny Carter of Philadelphia.

A woman at the park at the time of the shooting who didn't want to be identified in the newspaper said most people who heard the shot thought it was a "backfire" from a vehicle.

They were getting ready to play the last baseball game of the night when the shooting occurred, she said.

"Everybody was just standing there," she said. "It was only one shot that was fired. Someone said, 'Oh my God, he got shot.' Everyone ran down to see who got shot. A lot of people at the park who had kids just left. They didn't know if someone else would get shot."

The woman was not only friends with the victim, but related to him as well, she said.

"We called him Dano," she said. "He was my cousin. He was a good kid. He stayed to himself. He did things just like all the rest of them. He was just a street guy. He didn't have a job. He just came back up here from the Coast. He wasn't a bad guy. He just lived by the streets."