LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – With concerns growing over a serial stabber, homeless shelters in Little Rock are ramping up their efforts to protect people sleeping on the streets.
Staff at the shelters say they are worried as the people they serve seem to be the most at risk in those early morning hours when the suspect in these incidents is known to carry out most of his attacks.
Many shelters are taking a pro-active approach, like Nehemiah House on Springer Boulevard, located just a minutes’ drive away from the first attack that killed a 64-year-old man.
The men’s ministry at Nehemiah House works hard to transform the lives of people experiencing homelessness because they say it’s not uncommon for violence and homelessness to go hand-in-hand. When they found out about the recent string of homicides, they were heartbroken, but not surprised.
“As shocking as it is, it’s not new, so to say, but it is alarming,” Director of Program Operations Jeremy Burton said, while noting that his team is not too worried about their personal safety.
“We do feel pretty safe with the security that we have,” he explained. “We have cameras, alarms.”
What staffers are concerned about are those still on the streets, and they’re doing something about it.
“We’re waiting to hear back from Little Rock Police Department on measures to take as far as opening up for the homeless to come in and stay for right now,” Burton said.
The same is true for the Salvation Army. They say they’ve been in touch with the 12th Street district police.
“To come and do extra patrolling in the morning when we have our feeding,” Salvation Army Major Bill Mockabee said.
That group is also doing everything they can to get the word out.
“We’ve posted the pictures that the police have provided in all of our entrances, in all of our public areas,” Mockabee outlined.
The major sees these attacks as a community problem, one they say people experiencing homelessness can’t solve on their own.
“We need people to step up and speak out when they see things that just aren’t right or just not part of their ordinary day,” Mockabee said.
In the meantime, both organizations are intent on helping some of the most vulnerable until a killer is off the streets.
The Salvation Army says people experiencing homelessness can find some safety in numbers, and the Nehemiah House is hoping people experiencing homelessness might take this opportunity to get help.