LPD arrests 3 in Upton Heights
By JENNIFER HORTON
One of the men charged has been a victim of crime himself, suffering two gunshot wounds in two separate incidents, one in November and the other earlier this month.
The incident occurred at 83 Upton Heights as officers with the Lebanon Police Department responded to a call regarding a possible robbery attempt. Police Chief Scott Bowen said police received an anonymous call telling them that a group of males armed with guns were planning to rob a business in Lebanon.
Officers noticed several people inside the residence, but no one would answer the door when the officers knocked.
A family member of the female who is the lease-holder of the residence arrived on scene and tried to make contact with her by sending a text message. The lease-holder replied to her family member and said she was crying and that she was not allowed to come to the door as the other subjects inside the residence ordered her not to do so.
The lease-holder confirmed that the subjects inside the residence were Vontaine Tucker, 19; Aderius Bingham, 20; and Marcus Baker, 20, all of Lebanon.
Bowen said Bingham and Baker were identified as having outstanding warrants so the perimeter was secured as officers attempted to call the subjects out.
Bowen said the SWAT team had been notified and that negotiators were on their way, but about 20 minutes later, before SWAT and the negotiators arrived, the subjects left the residence without incident.
The chief said officers did not want to rush the residence believing it would be better and safer if the individuals came outside on their own.
Fortunately for us, they came out, Bowen said, adding they were then taken into custody.
A consent search of the residence led officers to discover a Hi-Point 9mm semi-automatic handgun reportedly hidden in the tank of the toilet.
Bowen said officers took the anonymous callers tip seriously as they were able to confirm two parts of what the caller told them, namely the subjects were where the caller said they were and there was a gun in the residence.
No doubt, they were up to no good, the chief said.
Tucker was shot in the leg on Dec. 8 in an incident that occurred in Inman Court, also a federal housing project in Lebanon. The suspect, or suspects, in the case fled in a large model vehicle.
He was also shot in the foot on Nov. 22 by one of two residents who came to a residence at 904 Inman Court and started a dispute. Two people, one a 17-year-old juvenile, have been arrested and charged in that case.
In this most incident, Tucker was charged with false imprisonment and criminal trespassing. Bingham and Baker were served violation of probation warrants in addition to false imprisonment and criminal trespassing. Bingham was also charged with unlawful possession of a weapon.
Police have identified Tucker and Baker as members of the Gangster Disciples street gang, Bowen said.
Tucker was released from the Wilson County Jail after posting bond, although the amount was not available.
Baker remains in jail, and no bond was set for him. Bingham also remains in jail under a bond of $27,500.
Bowen said he continues to work with the Lebanon Housing Authority regarding safety issues in the housing projects.
While a number of measures are being discussed, one that could be implemented in the next couple of months if approved would put a full-time police officer in the projects to build a rapport with residents there and to respond more quickly when something occurs. That officer would be backed up by a zone officer and others, if needed.
Bowen said other cities have used this same approach where there is a contract between the city and the housing authority that says essentially the officer works for the police department but is paid by the housing authority.
Once a contract is drawn, the chief said he will ask the city attorney to look at it and it will be presented to the LHA board and the Lebanon City Council for their approvals.
Some cities and housing authorities have agreed on bringing in private security or have agreed to use a city police officer. Either way, Bowen said such arrangements have been successful at reducing crime in housing projects.
There is no sense in some of this nonsense that goes on over there, Bowen said of the local housing projects.
By having someone on duty there all the time, it will help cut down on crime and will also help prevent it in the first place because residents will know the officer and the officer will know them.
It will also help save resources when something does occur because the officer will be able to respond quickly. Right now, officers must often respond from other parts of town, leaving them unprotected for a time.
When an incident does occur, it takes time to investigate and that can involve more than one officer.
In the case of Tucker who was shot twice prior to his alleged involvement in this most recent incident, Bowen said charges were filed against two suspects in the first shooting, but Tucker so far has reportedly not cooperated with police in the second shooting.
He knows (who shot him), but he wont tell us, the chief said, noting when an incident occurs such as a shooting, police must investigate.
Bowen noted that residents of the housing projects here have every right to live in a safe environment, and if we can prevent assaults (and other crimes), that will help. He added, In my opinion, its a win-win for the city.
There are a number of other measures the LHA and police are looking at regarding safety issues, Bowen said, including issuing IDs, issuing warnings or strikes regarding behavior and more. Bowen attends every meeting of the LHA, and the next one is set for Thursday, Jan. 5.
The board meets the first Thursday of each month.
Editor Jennifer Horton may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.