Since Friday morning, the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office has handled three homicides, the suicide of a slaying suspect, the shooting of a probation officer and the death of a probationer. Two more people remain in critical but stable condition from the shootings.
“It’s been a rough week,” Sheriff Richard Roundtree said. “But by no means are we discouraged.”
Roundtree said his team has been working this year to reverse trends he sees leading to homicides. Teen violence or gang shootings are one area they have been trying to crack down on.
Police were called to a loud house party in the 2500 block of East Kensington Drive late Thursday where they discovered Marquez Eubanks, 19, and Jeremy Whitehead, 21, with gunshot wounds. Eubanks died at Georgia Regents Medical Center early Friday. Whitehead remains in critical condition.
Less than 24 hours after the shooting, police arrested Dijon Cortez Abbott, 17, of James Drive.
Roundtree said investigators were able to quickly make an arrest because Abbott was already on their radar. The sheriff’s office’s intelligence team had been tracking information since a shooting after a party in Cambridge Subdivision about a month ago. No one was injured in that shooting, but police had been eyeing the two groups who had possibly been feuding.
“We think if we had more time to track that we might have been able to prevent it (the East Kensington Drive shooting),” Roundtree said Tuesday.
Youth violence as a whole is down, he said, but it’s still a problem for the Augusta area.
“That’s the type of violence we are trying to cut down on,” Roundtree said.
Domestic violence is less predictable.
A domestic violence shooting Sunday morning resulted in two slayings, one woman being critically wounded and the suspect’s suicide.
Richmond County sheriff’s Lt. Calvin Chew said Cedric Tobias Harris, 31, entered a home in the 3600 block of Stanton Court and shot his ex-wife, April Paulk, in the head. He then shot Paulk’s 35-year-old sister, Brandi Wilson, and her husband, Lee Wilson, 31.
Brandi Wilson and Lee Wilson were pronounced dead at 5:15 a.m. Sunday. Paulk remained in critical condition Tuesday.
Harris escaped to McDuffie County, where he fatally shot himself.
Seven of this year’s 12 homicides have been domestic-related.
“You have no control over those,” Roundtree said.
The sheriff said his department tries to look for reoccurring domestic violence cases that could develop into a homicide, but it can’t always be predicted. Earlier this year, he said, investigators stepped in to stop what they believe could have turned into a homicide. Roundtree would not elaborate on that case.
On Monday, the sheriff’s office assisted the Georgia Bureau of Investigation with the investigation of a probation officer who was shot at the Augusta Probation Office.
Authorities said Sherrill Latasha Warren was trying to arrest Travis Berrian, 29, when the two began to fight over a gun. Berrian was fatally wounded and Warren was shot in the abdomen.
Authorities said Berrian was being arrested on an active warrant for a June slaying in Statesboro, Ga.
Roundtree encouraged his team at Tuesday morning’s command staff meeting to use the probation office shooting as a learning experience. He asked the staff to always be aware of potential danger when making contact with anyone.
“That’s something that can’t be prevented,” he said. “We have to make contact with people. We have to engage people.”
Despite the recent rash of violence, homicides are still down by six compared with this time last year. Investigators handled 18 homicides through July of last year, with a total of 31 homicides by year’s end.