Slaying on Elm Tree Lane follows a rash of shootings

jkegley@herald-leader.comOctober 11, 2011 

A Lexington man became the first person to die in a rash of shootings that have plagued East Lexington recently.

Vincent Miles, 34, was found dead early Tuesday on the front porch of a vacant house on Elm Tree Lane, Fayette County Coroner Gary Ginn said.

Miles was Lexington's 15th homicide this year and one of at least 10 victims injured in 11 reported shootings that have occurred in Lexington since last Wednesday — an unusually high number for Lexington.

Despite the close proximity, Lexington police do not think all of the shootings are related.

"At this point, there is no evidence to indicate that these shots-fired incidents and shootings are related," Lexington police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts said.

Miles was fatally shot about 3:10 a.m., according to a news release from the coroner's office. The cause of death is listed as a gunshot wound. It was not clear where Miles was shot.

Police were sent to 546 Elm Tree Lane at 3:13 a.m. about a person down, Roberts said. Officers discovered Miles shortly after arriving.

No arrests have been made in Miles' slaying.

On Tuesday, about 50 close-knit friends and family members of Miles gathered at his mother's house on East Second Street.

They acknowledged he had been in trouble with the law before — Miles had been in and out of jail since the late 1990s for mostly misdemeanors and non-violent offenses, according to Fayette County court records. He did not appear to have been in trouble since serving out a prison sentence in 2008, according to records.

"He was a very good son to me," said his mother, Teresa Miles. "Of course, in every family there are ups and downs, but he was my son and I loved him."


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Family members remembered him as a loving father and uncle, and a new grandfather — he has a 5-month-old grandchild, they said.

He was a gifted dancer and confident man with an eye for fashion who was at his best when getting ready to go out with friends, they said.

"He was such a chick magnet, such a handsome guy," his sister, Lanita Miles, said.

While they gathered, they discussed the cloud of violence hanging over the neighborhood where they all grew up.

"I wouldn't walk around these streets at night like I did when I was younger," Lanita Miles said.

In past week, there have been five shootings in East Lexington near downtown . Others happened on Alexandria Drive, Winburn Drive, Dinsmore Drive off Richmond Road, and Whitney Avenue near Georgetown Street. At 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, a man showed up at University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital with a gunshot wound in the back, Roberts said. Details of his shooting were not available, but police think he was shot near Martin Luther King Boulevard.

Lanita Miles said most of the crime in East Lexington is committed by people who don't live there. Much of the violence stems from drugs, and the recent shootings are probably no different, the family said.

"It's the out of town guys who come in town, or people who live somewhere else who come to this area to do their dirt," she said.

The shootings have caused fear and concern to ripple through the neighborhood, said District 1 Councilman Chris Ford, who represents the district where at least five of the recent shootings occurred.

Ford has spearheaded several efforts on the city council to improve public safety in his district, but he recognized that those are long-term goals. Residents want results now, he said.

Ford said police plan to increase patrols in his district to try to deter the increase in crime.

"We have to respond and do the job right now," he said. "Long and short term, our police department is going to step up for the benefit of our neighborhoods."

But Miles' family questions whether that's enough when many people refuse to talk to police after a violent crime occurs for fear of being labeled a "snitch."

Roberts said investigators have strong leads in an Oct. 5 shooting on Rand Avenue, but no arrests have been made and no suspects have been named.

Police have made at least one arrest in the string of shootings.

Lonnie Schooley was charged with first-degree assault, wanton endangerment, fleeing and evading police and tampering with physical evidence in an Oct. 7 shooting outside Paradise City bar on Winchester Road, Roberts said. As of Wednesday night, police were not aware of any other arrests in the other shootings.

Vincent Miles' second cousin, Rochelle Williams, recalled that community leaders years ago would hold church meetings in the street, and as the pastor's voice echoed off buildings, alcoholics and drug dealers seemed to drift away, out of earshot.

But people don't organize like that anymore, she said, and many are scared to talk to police, elected officials or reporters. On Tuesday, several neighbors near the scene of recent shootings refused to talk to Herald-Leader reporters, some saying they weren't aware of the recent shootings.

However, friends and family of Miles are hoping someone who knows something will come forward.

Lanita Miles pleaded for that.

"Don't let this end up being another unsolved, senseless murder," she said.

Herald-Leader photographer Charles Bertram contributed to this story. For breaking news updates follow @HLpublicsafety via Twitter.com.

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