The normally tranquil town of Wewoka in central Oklahoma has experienced an alarming surge in gang-related violence, prompting extensive law enforcement investigations and community unease. According to District Attorney Erik Johnson, a series of ten shootings has rocked the community over six weeks, targeting individuals linked to two rival gangs, including the Savage Boys.
Officials have executed a series of arrests in response to the violence, which includes the recent killing of a 21-year-old man and shootings at local businesses. The collaborative efforts of local, state, tribal, and federal agencies have resulted in six individuals being taken into custody and the seizure of four handguns. The arrests have brought some relief to residents, who have faced disruptions including the cancellation of the Sorghum Festival and school closures due to safety concerns.
Johnson announced in a press conference, flanked by representatives of the Wewoka Police Department and other law enforcement agencies, that the coordinated operations will likely lead to more arrests. He addressed the community’s frustrations over communication, emphasizing the complexity of sharing information during active investigations. Law enforcement’s focus has been on addressing the violence rather than public relations, a stance that has left some residents feeling uninformed and concerned about transparency.
The violence has prompted local institutions to take precautionary measures. Pastor Joe Ward of Blessed Rock Freewill Baptist Church has given his congregation a “code word” for emergency situations during services, reflecting the heightened alertness within the community.
Community stalwarts like Cary Robinson have lived in Wewoka since 1959 and attest to the unprecedented nature of the current situation, encouraging those fearful to seek community support. The sentiment is echoed by others who urge solidarity and resilience among neighbors.
The investigations have highlighted a small group of individuals as the source of the unrest, with the assurance that they will face justice within the appropriate legal frameworks. As the town of approximately 3,200 residents continues to navigate these challenging times, the anticipation of further arrests and the continuation of “saturated law enforcement patrols” promise a proactive stance against the gang violence that has disrupted the peace of Wewoka.