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Police seek Avery Trace killing clues; Mayor: “Folks don’t have respect for human life”

The city saw its second homicide in less than three weeks at an apartment complex that has had its share of violence.

Steve Allen Summerville, 32, was shot multiple times at approximately 8:44 p.m. Thursday at Avery Trace Apartments, 4140 FM 365. He was brought to Christus St. Elizabeth Hospital in Beaumont, where he died from his injuries.

Jefferson County Pct. 1, Place 2 Justice of the Peace Ben Collins Sr. pronounced Summerville deceased and ordered an autopsy.

Preliminary results should be ready by Tuesday, he said.

Port Arthur Police Deputy Chief Reid Rowe could not confirm if the shooting occurred inside an apartment or outside.

Police are not saying if they have a person or persons of interest, but they are investigating multiple leads. They are also not saying how many times the victim was shot. Information from PAPD only stated Summerville had several gunshot wounds.

Violence

Avery Trace Apartments has been the scene of other violent altercations, some of which include the 2018 fatal shooting of Joseph Boudreaux, 25, and the 2017 shooting death of Javonte Jack, 20.

Jody Holton, president of the Port Arthur Council of Neighborhood Watch, has noted crimes occur but witnesses sometimes do not want to cooperate with law enforcement and as long as this occurs there is no solution to the violence.

“We obviously don’t have enough policing, but you can’t be everywhere every day and night. That’s where neighbors come into play,” Holton said.

The lack of involvement and cooperation with police appears to be an age-related occurrence, she said.

“I see most people that are willing to do that are older people because we have more experience in life and I think we can see a different picture,” she said, adding the issue has nothing to do with race or nationality.

PAPD does not provide security services at the complex, authorities said.

Holton noted there are residents in the surrounding neighborhoods that have lost property value, and some who have trouble trying to sell their home due to the proximity to the apartment complex.

Mayor Thurman Bartie said he would be a “gazillionaire” if he had a solution to the crime concerns at Avery Trace and that of violence crime.

“Folks don’t have respect for human life,” Bartie said. “On the other hand, we have too many of our youngsters, a great number of African Americans who don’t value each other’s life and I pray to God that wasn’t the case and that it certainly wasn’t the case in my city. Every now and then we have a monster raising its head. I think this is the second homicide this year, it’s senseless.”

Bartie is part of a national group of mayors who will soon tout National Gun Violence Awareness Day. He said it’s ironic that during a special meeting of these mayors there was a fatal shooting in Port Arthur.

The mayor also puts some blame on the current state administration for allowing anyone to carry a gun.

“The administration we have said that you don’t even have to have a license to carry a gun,” he said. “Besides giving law enforcement a free ticket to shoot you, it gives individuals a chance to shoot each other with legislation like that.”

Responsibility is a key in the issue.

“We have to be responsible citizens, responsible Texans and responsible Americans and respect others no mater their ethnicity regarding their God given right,” he said.

The Port Arthur Police Department is asking for the public’s help in solving the crime.

If you have any information regarding the fatal shooting, call the Criminal Investigations Division at 409-983-8624.

If you would like to remain anonymous, report the information to Crime Stoppers by calling 409-833-TIPS or by downloading the mobile app – P3 TIPS – on a smart phone. You could be eligible to receive a cash reward.