KEYSTONE HEIGHTS – At first, residents seemed apprehensive as a group of Clay County Sheriff’s Office deputies and volunteers went door-to-door Tuesday afternoon in the neighborhood surrounding Keystone Heights Elementary.
Several minutes later, many of those same residents joined in the neighborhood walk.
“I was going for a walk anyway,” said Deanna Hopkins as she pushed a stroller along Highland Avenue. “I’ve never lived in a town with something like this. It makes you feel good to know they’re here.”
About 20 residents joined with deputies, Sheriff’s NET volunteers and city officials as the strolled through the neighborhood. Residents seemed eager, and thankful, for the interaction and assurances.
City officials and CCSO officers did the walk as part of the agency’s Neighborhood Walk program and to address a recent social media posting that claimed children had created a fight club. The video, which has since been removed, showed two girls in a violent confrontation.”
The sheriff’s office said it already has identified the two girls and it wasn’t part of any club or gang.
“It was just a couple kids fighting that blew up and got out of hand,” said deputy Dimiti Santiago. “We know who’s involved.”
Mayor Karen Lake and City Manager Scott Kornegay both knocked on doors and talked to residents.
“We have to stay on top of it,” Kornegay said. “We’ve done a lot of things to address these things. We’ve put up cameras and security systems at the theme park and national park. We’re in the process of doing it at the beach park.”
Kornegay said Keystone’s surveillance systems will plug into the county’s new Clay Community Connect system that will allow the sheriff’s office to monitor the parks.
A 9-year-old girl also was attacked last Friday at a park. Santiago said nothing suggests that assault had anything to do with the fight between two girls.
Lake wanted residents to understand the reports of gang activity and fight clubs weren’t correct.
“There is no gang activity here,” she said. “I really appreciate everyone coming out and showing support.”
Undersheriff Ray Walden also talked with residents.
“We want them to know we’re here,” he said. “They want to know what’s going on. By doing this, they know they can trust us to help out. We can’t do this all by ourselves. Going out and talking with people on a good day is a lot better than having to talk to them on a bad day.”