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Biloxi Police Arrest Vagrants at Katrina Destroyed Motel
Arrests Follow Complaints by Nearby Residents and GCN

By Keith Burton - GulfCoastNews.com

Biloxi Police arrested two vagrants who were staying at the former Comfort Suites and Comfort Inn motels this week following complaints by residents and GCN.

The property, which is located at the corner of U.S. 90 and Iberville Drive has been closed since it was destroyed by Katrina, August 29, 2005. Since that time, the site has become the frequent home of vagrants and panhandlers who have plagued residents in the area and along the residential street of Iberville Drive.

Last week, one resident returning home from his night shift, found a vagrant sleeping at his home's entrance behind his screened porch. Earlier that week a vagrant, reeking of alcohol, was panhandling for money. He even approached a home at night knocking at the door, alarming the homeowner's family.

Several weeks earlier, a vagrant, carrying gallon jugs was seen filling up the jugs from a water faucet in front of a home on the street. But for months, the vagrants, often carrying backpacks, have been seen walking up and down Iberville Drive, even into the early morning hours.

Due to the complaints, GulfCoastNews.com contacted the city about the problem early this week. The city reacted swifty.

Biloxi officials sent the following email to GulfCoastNews.com to report on the Police Department's findings:

"We reconnoitered the damaged Comfort Inn located at 1648 Beach Boulevard and adjoining property to the west.  We found that the fencing on the north end of the property was open as well as the fencing on the north end of the west fence line.  The fence is marked with “no trespassing” signs.

The ground floor rooms were unlivable and vacant.  Many of the upstairs rooms were in good condition and showed signs of recent occupancy.  (Food, water, clothes, bed clothes and other personal items)

Many of these top rooms were locked and could not be checked.   Access to these rooms can be stopped by the owners securing the stairwells.

During the search of the area, two vagrants we located in the building and arrested for trespassing and vagrancy.  These were transported to the Harrison County Adult Detention Center."

The site has become a major eyesore on the beach highway as the property owners have done nothing to cleanup since Katrina. Grass and weeds tower around the site and trash and storm debris litter the property.

Property holders just east of the motel site were ordered recently by the city to remove debris and cut the weeds at what was once the upscale beachfront homes of the Cayman Brac subdivision, which they have done.

One Cayman Brac property owner said that  the fact that the motel property has been left in derelict and dangerous condition while they homeowners had to clean up was "unfair."

Clearly, the property's fence is no deterrent to people who want to use the vacant rooms on the second floor of the motel, and the "No Trespassing" signs are not keeping people out of the buildings.

Several weeks ago, Biloxi police officials notified the public to be on the watch for anything unusual in their neighborhoods. Late last year, a Gulfport neighborhood was the site of a vagrant who committed two murders looking for money.

Biloxi officials tell GCN that the motel property has become a public menace and nuisance and further actions may be taken. GCN tried to contact the Bob Usey Real Estate company that is marketing the property, but has yet to receive a response.


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