ELAINE, Ark. — On a recent September afternoon, Courtney Porter counted his losses: his mom from old age, his wife from diabetes complications, two of his brothers. One died from an aneurysm but the death by shooting of his younger sister, Patro in the past year, was the worst.
“It tore me up, real bad,” said Porter, 50, from the Stop N Shop, a defunct gas station that is now a convenience shop. “I’ll never get over it.”
Patro was 46 years old when he passed away. He was a barber. He even cut the man’s hair, who was then 20 years old and is accused of shooting the victim after a dispute over a cigarette.
Porter described the murder as both shocking and inexplicable for this small town of 500 people, located on the west side of the Mississippi River, surrounded by cotton and soy fields.
“Everybody here gets along,” he said. “Everybody had a question, like, ‘Why? Why? Why did he do this?’”
Patro Porter’s death wasn’t an isolated incident. Phillips County in which Elaine lives is made up of about 15,000 residents spread out over 690 square mile. Data shows they’re at high risk of gun violence. From 2016 to 2020, the county had the country’s highest per capita rate of gun homicides, according to an analysis last year by the Center…