After a bloody week capped by the fatal shooting of a teenager Thursday morning, Mayor Keith Bell said the level of violence in the city was “unacceptable” and he called for a community effort to reduce gun crimes.

“Any time there are deaths in our community from unnatural causes, it’s alarming and concerning,” Bell, who took over the mayor’s office this week, said. “This incident without question is alarming and concerning, especially when it comes on the heels of many other similar incidents.”

City leaders were committed to addressing the violence and making La Marque a safer community, Bell said.

“What we have been dealing with in our community is unacceptable,” Bell said. “It will not be tolerated. We are not there today; but La Marque will be the safest city in Texas.

Derion Chambers, 18, of Galveston, was shot and killed near the 2400 block of Main Street in La Marque just before midnight, officials said. Another person, who has not been named, was wounded in the shooting, and two teenagers were charged in connection to the crimes.

It’s the third fatal shooting in county in less than a week — the others occurred at the La Marque/Texas City border and in Galveston — and was the latest incident during a wave of violence occurring for months. Police have suggested that some of the shootings are connected.

The violence has reached “heartbreaking” levels, Bell said. He has received calls from longtime residents of the city of about 17,000 people, telling him they no longer feel safe there.

Volunteer organizations have worked to decrease the violence in La Marque, but Bell said it was time for the general public to become more involved in discussions about what’s causing it and how to stop it.

“We do have community groups that are trying to address the violence, but what we need is total buy-in,” Bell said. “A community organization can only go as far as the willingness of the members of the community to engage.

“We can have all sorts of community organizations that are designed to stop violence, but if our community at large don’t engage with those organizations, then the chance for impact and success is greatly reduced,” he said.

Bell said he intended to reach out to Chambers’ parents, as well as the family of the other victim, and would meet with them in person if the families will allow him to.

Bell said it was important to him that city leaders acknowledge the pain and suffering of people affected by gun violence.

“It should be unacceptable for anybody in our community to die, especially from gun violence,” Bell said.

Bell became mayor, officially, as the new year began. Mayor Bobby Hocking earlier this week announced he would resign his position for personal reasons. The resignation was effective as of today.

Under the city’s charter, the mayor pro tem becomes the city’s mayor when the position is vacated. Bell will hold the position at least until the city holds its next election in May.

John Wayne Ferguson: 409-683-5226; or on Twitter @johnwferguson.


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(11) comments

Gary Miller

Time to try the Democrat crime control policy. Defund the police? Democrats think they are smarter than the public. If they actually were smarter wouldn't they come up with a real crime control policy?

Gary Scoggin

What local Democrats are calling to defund the police?

Carlos Ponce

"Law enforcement in Galveston County feeling attacked over calls for defunding "

While "Democrats" are not mentioned in the article, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out their political affiliation.

Gary Scoggin

From the article, Carlos shared: "Protests around Galveston County have drawn hundreds of people demanding police reform and an end to racial injustice.:

Police reform and ending injustice are different from defunding the police. Nowhere in that article did a local person call for the local police (or SO) to be defunded. In fact, a main point of the article is that the police need more and different kinds of resources. A type of reform? Yes. Defunding? No.

Carlos Ponce

Did you read the TITLE, Gary Scoggin?

"Law enforcement in Galveston County feeling attacked over calls for defunding "

Last I checked "defunding" spells defunding.

Gary Scoggin

Yes, I read the headline. Did you read the article? Obviously not.

Carlos Ponce

I read it. The headline which writers use to convey the topic of the article still includes "DEFUNDING".

Jim Forsythe

In Galveston County, is what we are requiring of police officers, reducing crime? A better approach may be to have police officers highly trained (more advance training) in a few areas and have professionals' that are trained in mental health care, and youth services and such. It maybe possible to have some of the professionals' share time between police departments. Do you feel safer today, verses 10 years ago, 20 years ago?

Today "Policing isn't about crime prevention, it's about responding to crime after the fact,". "So we need to think 'What if we can actually be in spaces where we can address an issue before it escalates?'"

If we can keep people out of jail, it reduces cost. Below is the cost per day for pretrial Defendants in Galveston County, and if we can reduce the number of people in the County jail by using professionals' , the program could reduce cost.

Today we have about 722 in the Pretrial Population. This is a reduction in numbers because of Covid-19. In the past the numbers would be about 20% more.

Galveston County Jail

Average Cost to Incarcerate Pretrial Defendants with Misdemeanor Charges: $2,714 » Average Cost to Incarcerate Pretrial Defendants with State Jail Charges: $10,738 » Average Cost to Incarcerate Pretrial Defendants with Felony Charges: $29,146

For most people, defunding the police doesn't mean getting rid of law enforcement completely. It's really about the redistribution of money to the places and programs that need it.

It's a common misconception that "defunding the police" means completely stripping law enforcement of all of their funding. "defunding the police" simply means reducing police department budgets and redistributing those funds towards essential social services that are often underfunded, such as housing, education, employment, mental health care, and youth services.

“Defunding the police means shrinking the scope of police responsibilities and shifting most of what government does to keep us safe to entities that are better equipped to meet that need,”. “It means investing more in mental-health care and housing, and expanding the use of community mediation and violence interruption programs.”

Charles Douglas

People do wrong because of the inclinations of an UNCHANGED heart, and thoughts controlling each individual! The Word Of God teaches us to bring our kids up in things of God and they will prosper from It! Yet in America many children are born out of wedlock, and the single parent many times has to work two jobs to make ends meet, or abide on government subsidies to live.

The kids are left to raise themselves, or be influenced by street cultures they are exposed to outside of the home, or from what they are exposed to in sub-par, ill-equipped schools they are made to attend! Take all that ..mixed with strong doses of poverty, along with vilifying God & Jesus Christ in our society, then what else can we possibly expect to see in these times, but what we are seeing! We cannot and should not lay all this on the police! Society has problems, BIG PROBLEMS!

They did not appear overnight and they won't be solved overnight! Ever wonder why this moral bankrupt society is more apped to allow a bordello to stay open during the Pandemic before they will a church? All this going on today, and the expectation is for peace an harmony to reign supreme over the land? Sorry, but there is an enemy to mankind in the world who cannot be seen call SATAN! He is the architect of Selfishness, Hate, Jealousy, Envy, Strife, and every evil work!

He must be dealt with in every aspect of our lives! Satan's power in this world has been limited by God to include deception, deceit, and duplicity! That means he tells lies to a man's flesh ( soul )... in order to impede the maturation process of the heart! When a man has no self-control over his own spirit, ( Proverbs 25:28 ).... and is ruled not by his spirit as God intended, but by his soul, where Satan has influence, THAT BEGINS THE PROBLEMS OF MAN AND HUMANITY!

" As a man thinketh in his heart so is he." ( Proverbs 23:7 ). Proverbs 4:23 states, " Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it flows the issues of life." So In ending I will say this, ...the way you change human behavior from bad to good is to change the way a man think, the way you change the way a man think is to make sure God's Word enters his ears and into his heart, which can change his actions as well as his words!

Tearing down statues, spewing out hate, in order to control votes, beating old folks with 2x4(s), maintaining bad schools, watering down curriculums, accepting mediocrity over excellence, taking GOD out of our schools, is not the way to change what we are seeing! Remember this,... HATE flows from a man's heart before it flows from his mouth or his hands! " The fool says in his heart ( Not his Mouth ) ..there is no GOD....." ( Psalms 14:1 ). Dealing with the heart begins the change process of any man!!!!!!

Doug Sivyer

Why is the new Mayor so surprised at this? The problem is not only La Marque, but also nationwide. The failure of the GOP to stand against the NRA and other gun lobbyist is the EXACT reason we have so much gun violence in this nation. Guns are too easily obtained. Everyone and their mother, sister, cousin, brother, father, etc. owns multiple guns these days. It is out of control and likely will never be reined in. Sad truth.

David Hardee

Right - the mayor and no one should be surprised since it has been going on for years.

You say it is nationwide, well it is, in those areas where there is a high density of blacks that are producing 73% out of wedlock babies with a single parent and starting life without the guidance and respect a child shod have. These babies are also infected by the dependency on the nanny state of the Democcratic progressive liberals.

As to guns, your determination that the prolific number of guns is a cause of the murders has no veracity. Those guns that are involved have no ability to fire themselves. This charge that guns causing murders is like saying food causes obesity - and note that obesity.

kills more, suicides are more and drugs are more responsible for deaths than are guns.

Ergo, people cause murders.

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