Crime Numbers Mixed

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According to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report for 2003, Mississippi's overall violent crime rate fell while the murder rate has risen nearly 21 percent since 1999.

"This year, the figures are higher than they were last year, but this is the third-best year since 1993," said Meridian police chief Benny Dubose.

The report listed 195 violent crimes and 1,827 property crimes in Meridian for 2003.

Lauderdale County had 39 violent crimes and 493 property crimes.

"Over the past ten years, the Meridian Police Department has maintained the lowest figures for its population," said Dubose.

"If you just look at the numbers, you would say 2003 was a bad year for homicide in Lauderdale County," said Sheriff Billy Sollie. "We reported six last year versus three the previous year. But what happened last year that claimed lives was the shooting at Lockheed Martin."

That shooting involved a Lockheed employee who fired guns inside the building, ultimately claiming six victims. Doug Williams also took his own life.