Since January, 11 serious violent crimes have occurred in the downtown area that the sheriff cited as the main location of First Friday, according to crime data The Augusta Chronicle collects each week from the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office.
Those crimes consisted of aggravated assaults and robberies.
On Wednesday, Sheriff Ronnie Strength told a group worried about the safety and the future of First Friday that there
isn’t a crime problem in the area. The July 6 shooting that injured six people on Broad Street was an abnormality, Strength
said, in the downtown area bordered by Reynolds, Greene, Fourth and 13th streets. The shootings were included in the crime data.
In the entire Central Business District set by the 911 Emergency Center, which stretches as far as the Savannah River to Laney-Walker Boulevard and Walton Way, there were 50 violent
crimes, topping those in all of Augusta’s emergency response areas.
Strength said that area is much larger than what he sees as the area visited by First Friday participants.
The sheriff said this year’s violent crimes downtown included a Jan. 5 robbery in which the victim said he was accosted by two men who accused him of owing $180 from crack cocaine and took his house key and cellphone; a Feb. 13 assault in which the victim said a woman he knew kicked in his door and cut his hand with a knife; and a man found Feb. 25 at Broad and 11th streets bleeding from stab wounds.