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Residents Speak Out About Preston Alley Murder

By Natalie Potts
By npotts@wbbjtv.com

JACKSON, Tenn. - Residents in East Jackson are speaking out about the Hub City's 11th homicide this year.

According to Jackson Police, shooting victim Howard Williamson, 53, died at a Memphis hospital Saturday afternoon after he was critically injured in a shooting early Monday morning on Preston Alley.

Williamson told police before he died that an unknown man banged on his front door, then fired through his front window with a shotgun. The shotgun sprayed pellets that fatally wounded Williamson in the shoulder, leg and backside.

Residents told 7 Eyewitness News that Williamson was a harmless neighbor who was defenseless against violence.

Neighbor Vernice Nichelson, who grew up with Williamson, said he was required to live with an oxygen tank, and often had a hard time getting around his house.

"He was a nice guy, he shouldn't have died like that. Howard was a person that he couldn't even do for himself," said Nichelson. "I would bring him food and my sister would feed him."

Police said this type of violent crime is unusual for Preston Alley, but residents in the area disagree. Neighbors said they believe Preston Alley is growing more dangerous.

"It's the people that comes into the neighborhood. The drug dealers and the people that buy the drugs, they are the ones that are making this area bad," said Nichelson.

Residents said they believe the violence is coming from abandoned houses in the area. Neighbors said homeless drifters and drug addicts break in and transform the homes into drug houses that bring violence and prostitution to the street.

"The mayor should have cleaned this up. As many times as the police have been called into this area, he should have cleaned this up a long time ago," said Nichelson. "As a citizen of Jackson, Tennessee, these houses need to be torn down."

Neighbors said they believe people come to the area to camp out in the woods because the alley is secluded.

Police have not released a firm description of the shooter. If you have any information in this case call Jackson Police at (731) 425-8400.
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