By Alton Mitchell
The city of Opelika sits a little over 20 miles to the south of LaFayette. The short distance means the two cities share a lot in common. In 2017 the cities have shared a common bond in two separate homicide cases one of which left a LaFayette resident dead and the second left a LaFayette resident as a suspect. The two homicides also happened on the same street in Opelika.
The Toomer Homes Apartments sit in Opelika near Interstate 85. The housing community is located on a small circle that loops around built up of slightly over a dozen apartment buildings that border the Interstate. The small community has been home to three fatal shootings in 2017 all of which had connections to LaFayette.
The first incident happened on the night of March 25, 2017. At 9:14 p.m. Opelika Police and emergency units responded to a shooting in the 400 block of Toomer Court. When emergency personnel arrived they discovered two victims suffering from gunshot wounds. The first who was identified as Sedric Darell Lewis, 27, of Opelika was pronounced dead on the scene. A second victim identified as Derris Terrel Harris, 31, of LaFayette was rushed to an Opelika hospital where he died in the emergency room of his injuries.
Harris was a long time resident of LaFayette who attended local schools and still held strong family ties to the community. He was survived by his daughter and a slew of other relative many of which still call LaFayette home as he did. Two Opelika men have been arrested in connection to his homicide.
Gunfire exploded again on the afternoon of Saturday June 10, 2017 in the 1900 block of Toomer Court. In the Saturday shooting a 35-year-old Opelika woman was fatally shot in her home. Police have identified the victim as Darlene Little, she died at the scene from her injuries. Police named a suspect in the case quickly. Police arrested 34-year-old Timothy O’Neal James in connection to the shooting of Little. James is a resident of LaFayette.
Police have no evidence to suggest that the two 2017 homicides are connected. The city of LaFayette has not had a homicide in the city limits since March of 2016 when 52-year-old John Smith was found dead at his home in LaFayette. Police have arrested and charged two in connection to that case.