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Augusta gang shootings on rise, police say

Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012 6:12 PM
Last updated Monday, Dec. 17, 2012 12:51 AM
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A gang war in Augusta is heating up, say Richmond Coun­ty authorities, adding to the gun violence in the area and leading witnesses, and even some victims, to go into hiding.

The shootings of six people on Broad Street after July's First Friday has been tied to gang activity, but it is a "cold case" because of the lack of reliable witnesses coming forward.  FILE/STAFF
FILE/STAFF
The shootings of six people on Broad Street after July's First Friday has been tied to gang activity, but it is a "cold case" because of the lack of reliable witnesses coming forward.


A slew of recent shootings have been the result of a feud between the Shirley Avenue gang and the South Side gang, Richmond County sheriff’s Sgt. Jason Vinson said. In the past three to four weeks, police have been called to at least five gang-related shootings where the victims and witnesses refused to cooperate with law enforcement, forcing police to work off rumors and even target victims in order to get answers.

“It is absolutely necessary to have witnesses,” Vinson said. “The evidence is key, but witnesses can tie it all together.”

Gang mentality is very much like a cult, said Devon Harris, a local gang interventionist and founder of Full Circle Refuge Ministries. The gang leader often has deluded members to such an extent that they don’t trust anyone outside the group. They also fear retaliation from their gang if they go to law enforcement.

The saying is “snitches get stitches,” Harris said. The fear of retaliation is often strong enough to keep law-abiding residents quiet.

“The fear is that they are going to come after me,” Harris said.

Because gang members prefer to retaliate on the street rather than go to police, finding witnesses and victims who will talk is becoming harder, forcing law enforcement to look elsewhere for information and evidence, Vinson said. In a case where no one is talking, police can try to make a case against the victim, if there were drugs or illegal guns involved. Making a strong case against the victim can sometimes lead to a suspect.

On Friday, police responded to a shooting at Pak-N-Go on Olive Road. On surveillance video, they saw the victim, Richard Mills, 19, of the 2000 block of Jordan Drive, was targeted by the shooter.

“He walked into the store and shot Mills point blank,” Vinson said. “Even though there were other people in the store and parking lot, he only shot Mills.”

Police were told the shooting was one gang retaliating to a shooting the week before. At Pak-N-Go, there were multiple witnesses, even one caught on video, but none have come forward.

Police did get some anonymous tips, and through them identified and arrested Mar­cus Anthony Leverett, 28. Vin­son said several tipsters identified Leverett as the shooter.

“We will take anonymous tips,” he said, but often with gang-related shootings police don’t even get that.

In July, six people were shot on Broad Street after First Friday. That shooting, which has been linked to gang activity, is a “cold case” until a reliable witness surfaces.

“I think people are afraid,” Vinson said. “They don’t want to be involved and see it every day. It is very hard to convince them to come forward.”

Gang violence also is getting bolder, he said. Shootings used to happen after dark but now are being carried out during the day, and in front of witnesses.

The ultimate fear for police, Vinson said, is an innocent person getting in the crossfire.

The crime scene is often chaotic. Cpl. Bruce Williams, who has been a Richmond Coun­ty deputy for 16 years, said when deputies arrive they try immediately
to identify and separate witnesses before rumors and corroboration of stories can begin.

“We get what we can from the field interviews,” he said. “But if someone doesn’t
want to talk, we can’t make them.”

Williams, who works with the housing team, said deputies rely heavily on relationships they have with people in the neighborhoods. When a scene is clearly gang-related – which they can usually tell from the color of clothes and types of tattoos – police occasionally can get someone to talk if they are away from the crowd and cannot be labeled a snitch.

Williams and Vinson said people who do come forward are usually sick of the violence and want to help stop it.

“We need more of those,” Vinson said.

Occasionally, a victim’s parent will become a source of information, even when the victim has refused to help.

Vinson said parents often don’t know or want to accept that their child is a gang member, and instead choose to see it as childhood friends. Without the fear of a violent retaliation, parents tend to reach out.

Harris said one sure way to combat gang violence is for the public to work with law enforcement.

“We need to step up and take responsibility,” he said. “As a society, we can’t be afraid to talk.”

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Patty-P
3516
Points
Patty-P 12/16/12 - 07:02 pm
12
1
Such a shame that the area

Such a shame that the area has become increasingly unsafe. And usually it's the innocent that have to suffer while the guilty get 2nd chances.

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 12/16/12 - 07:24 pm
11
1
The South Side has a Gang

Fighting a downtown Gang.

Nothing new there, we see it every day in the comments section.
;-)

It becomes Sheriff Rounds problem and just a few days and we will have 4 years to see how he handles it.

countyman
21303
Points
countyman 12/16/12 - 08:29 pm
3
8
OpenCurtain.. Southside is

OpenCurtain.. Southside is the neighoborhood near Milledgeville/Tubman rd, and the public housing apartment complex off 15th street/Old Savannah.

It doesn't actually refer to 'South Augusta'... Augusta similar to many southern cities has neighborhood gangs.

Shirely Avenue is located right off Olive rd, and both areas are separated by no more than 5 minutes.

itsanotherday1
47013
Points
itsanotherday1 12/16/12 - 08:59 pm
14
1
The truth is, I don't care if

The truth is, I don't care if gangbangers kill each other off by the dozen; it is the danger to innocents that is the problem. Sadly, it will take the deaths of innocent bystanders to finally motivate witnesses to talk. Law enforcement is helpless to do anything otherwise. Just like most other problems in the low income community, the solutions lie with them, not the government/taxpayers.

AutumnLeaves
9650
Points
AutumnLeaves 12/16/12 - 09:24 pm
15
1
southside...

countyman, these problems are all over the country, all over the state, all over this city/county including the southside of Augusta/Richmond County (including Hephzibah), which has gang problems that have been going on for decades. I've lived in Augusta since the 60's; you might be able to pull the wool over someone else's eyes, but not mine. I've seen it with my own eyes and reported as much as anyone was willing to listen to. If these problems haven't been solved yet, it isn't because good citizens haven't been trying to do everything in their power to help. Many of us have; for whatever that's been worth and with varying degrees of success (or not). As I've said before, ignoring and/or denying there is a problem is NOT going to make anything better.

AutumnLeaves
9650
Points
AutumnLeaves 12/16/12 - 09:27 pm
17
1
Innocent people...

By the way innocent people have already been hurt. I can't even begin to tell you the toll of stresses these problems have added to the Augusta community. It is immeasurable. And I don't blame law enforcement in general. I blame the criminals and anybody that enables them, including those that keep silent.

itsanotherday1
47013
Points
itsanotherday1 12/16/12 - 09:46 pm
14
0
those that keep silent.

That is it AL, the real power to stop it lies with the families, friends, and neighbors of these cretins. If every decent person would fess up what they know, LE would have a fighting chance.

Bulldog
1333
Points
Bulldog 12/16/12 - 09:59 pm
13
1
Stand up

These thugs are counting on your fear. Like the cowards they are, they run when the lights come on. Show them that we are the ones to fear!
Stand up and speak up!

countyman
21303
Points
countyman 12/16/12 - 10:36 pm
5
7
How is my comment pulling the

How is my comment pulling the wool? Are you denying Augusta is mostly based on neighborhoods gangs? Are you denying 'Southside' is actually a particular area, and not South Augusta?

Lol gangs in Hephzibah? When is the last time the city of Hephzibah had a murder? This definitely must be someplace with the address, and not in the actual city limits. The overwhelmingly majority of crime in South Augusta is located in the older portion(mostly inside I-520). The newer areas of South Augusta with the Hephzibah address(mostly south of Tobacco rd btw I-520 Peach Orchard except for some Morgan rd neighborhoods and the neighborhood Woodlake) have less crime. The neighborhoods on Willis Foreman, and subdivision inside Diamond Lakes for example are mostly $200k homes and up. Which means if you keep going south of Willis Foreman rd towards the city of Hephzibah crime drops even lower.

According to this map there's been 18 homicides south of Tobacco rd between 2005-Dec 13th 2012. That's around 2.6 homicides per year in a population around 50k(30815). I only see a total of three homicides in seven years in the city limits of Hephzibah.

http://chronicle.augusta.com/data/homicides

countyman
21303
Points
countyman 12/16/12 - 10:35 pm
5
8
I'll give people the benefit

I'll give people the benefit of the doubt in terms of Hephzibah. They don't realize the address and city limits are two different things. Even though I could make sarcastic coments similar to other posters, but I'll take the high road. The media reports crime in Harrisburg, Laney Walker, Bethlehem, Turpin Hill, East Augusta, etc as 'downtown'.

It would be interesting to compare Hephzibah versus Grovetown/Harlem in Columbia and Belvedere in Aiken County..

Gage Creed
18918
Points
Gage Creed 12/16/12 - 10:36 pm
7
4
It must be all of those

It must be all of those Million dollar homes inside the Hephzibah city limits that fend off crime. (sarcasm off)

pgapeach2
1331
Points
pgapeach2 12/16/12 - 10:49 pm
7
1
What happened to

What happened to the days when you fought with your fist! I really hate that I moved back to Augusta after being gone foe almost 20 yrs. Since I've been back it's been one senseless killing after another. It's ridiculous and something needs to be done about it!

countyman
21303
Points
countyman 12/16/12 - 10:58 pm
5
5
GageCreed. It must be

GageCreed. It must be something, because I'm willing to bet the Hephzibah had less homicides over the last seven years compared to Belvedere, Grovetown, and Harlem all probably have more. Grovetown would only have the excuse of being the largest in population.

I would like to hear Dichotomy's explanation of the homicide map. I hear multiple times from him there's nowhere safe in South Augusta.

In seven years between 2006-2012.. I see a total of see zero homicides along Brown road, zero in Diamond Lakes, one homicide in Goshen, one along Willis Foreman, one in Gracewood, and two on Old Waynesboro rd.

There's only three homicides along Tobacco rd from I-520 all the way to the airport. The Tobacco rd are is heavily populated especially between Fort Gordon/Peach Orchard.

Before somebody brings up property crimes. If his description of nowhere safe is mainly based off property crimes, and not violent. Then West Augusta, Evans, Aiken, Summerville, Martinez, and Forest Hills don't have any safe areas either.

KSL
140441
Points
KSL 12/16/12 - 10:51 pm
8
2
I am with itsanother

They can kill each other off.

countyman
21303
Points
countyman 12/16/12 - 11:08 pm
5
7
Pgapeach... The crime rate of

Pgapeach... The crime rate of Augusta is better today compared to 20 years ago. The crime rate dropped again this year, and this is like the fourth year in a row. Crime might be more organized in 2012, because of transplants/proximity to cartels-drugs in Atlanta.

In order to help reduce the crime problem. The city should focus on attracting new jobs, and job training. The sheriffs office, RCBOE, government, local community, boys & girls clubs, kroc center, etc must all work together.

The majority of people DO want to work, and provide for themselves.

Another suggestion is cameras in the urban core, and along the major roadways(Washington, Wrightsboro, Peach Orchard, Gordon Hwy, Deans Bridge, Wheeler, and Tobacco rd.

dwb619
101140
Points
dwb619 12/16/12 - 11:16 pm
6
0
Belvedere

OK Countyman, how about a list of all the MURDERS in Belvedere?And while you are compiling the list, can you tell me the boundaries of the unincorporated area of Belvedere?
And I feel it only fair to point out, I have lived on the same street in Belvedere for 47 years.

corgimom
36810
Points
corgimom 12/17/12 - 03:23 am
8
1
Countyman, when was the last

Countyman, when was the last time Hephzibah had a murder?

How about December 5, when Michael Wickert was so brutally murdered?

While you talk about $200,000 homes in Hephzibah- which doesn't mean anything- the rest of us know that Hephzibah has had problems for years, since cocaine came in the 80's, and it had some less than savory people before that. Now the tweakers are there.

Maybe you don't know all that you think you do, Countyman. What you have never understood is that Augusta and RC is very complex, and things aren't always what they appear to be. You think that Hephzibah is like Green Acres, and that's not true.

I lived in the CSRA 20 years ago, Countyman. You didn't. I don't need to read crime reports and statistics. You have no idea what it was like 20 years ago, and the rest of us do. It wasn't anywhere near as bad as it is now.

wayne2410
1239
Points
wayne2410 12/17/12 - 04:49 am
0
1
If it is Obama voters
Unpublished

If it is Obama voters shooting Obama voters I don't see the problem. Just keep the innocent people and children off the street and let them keep at it. The country is a better place without them, if they want to kill each other, let them.

Patty-P
3516
Points
Patty-P 12/17/12 - 07:35 am
11
1
I still can't figure out why

I still can't figure out why Countyman turns tragedy or crime stories into his effort to brag about new businesses coming to the area. Won't change the facts and the need for people to be safe.

seenitB4
93819
Points
seenitB4 12/17/12 - 08:07 am
9
1
Yawn at countyman

What agenda does he have.....you have to wonder....some of us on here have lived in this area FOR YEARS...we KNOW what has happened there....
My daughters were here this weekend & we were talking about our ole neighborhood at Wheeless & Deans Bridge Rd area....beautiful & almost crime free at that time....Wheeless school was outstanding & they could walk up & down Wheeless & only worry about a car .....I said can you believe THAT is the high crime area now....it makes me sad---they were sad & we all know it didn't happen over night but the leaders in charge worried MORE about buildings in DOWNTOWN than cleaning up the crime in south Augusta....STOP building crap & put the police where you need them...how hard is that to see...

seenitB4
93819
Points
seenitB4 12/17/12 - 08:10 am
6
1
The reason for Roundtree suv

He KNOWS he will need a heavy duty suv for protection from the punks he will have to deal with....load it up I say....help him do something about this crap...

seenitB4
93819
Points
seenitB4 12/17/12 - 08:15 am
7
2
patty think about this...

Does countyman own property in south Augusta---no doubt that

Does he have children in RC schools ---no doubt that

Does he worry about dangers to close relatives in the high crime areas--no doubt that too....

When your kids are in these schools---your older folks live in the danger zone---you pay taxes in south Augusta.....you see the world as it is.....not some fairy tale story...

Little Lamb
48008
Points
Little Lamb 12/17/12 - 08:53 am
4
1
Strength's Fault

Don't worry. Sheriff Shaft campaigned on a platform of community policing and second chances instead of jail time. He campaigned on educating young criminals instead of jailing them. I'm sure these ideas will quell gang violence, since we all know that gang violence is the result of former sheriff Ron Strength's heavy-handedness.

cozzster
50
Points
cozzster 12/17/12 - 09:13 am
1
1
Hmmmm
Unpublished

Countyman sounds a lot like "nortonguy" in the Augusta forums located here:

http://www.city-data.com/forum/augusta-area/

Constantly saying how great Augusta is and that there are no problems and falsely promoting Augusta as Utopia. There are problems, countyman, accept them.

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 12/17/12 - 09:14 am
5
0
CountyMan - you missed the Humor of my comment

but managed to vindicated it at the same time.

As you stated the Southside Gang is from inside the old City limits south border. Last time I checked it did not include Fish Village which is bordered by Tubman Home Rd. and US-25. And at least it did not include the County area commonly referred to as the SOUTH SIDE.

The gang problem is nothing new.
Remember the Joint Federal and State and Co. investigation dating back to 2006? http://www.wrdw.com/home/headlines/11266356.html

Checkout some of the names and see how many are back on the streets already. OR DEAD

BTW:
Don't forget the:
Georgia Dudley Boyz
East Boundry Boyz
Circle Boyz
Uptown-Fairington Gangster Thugs
O-Dubs
Meadowbrook Clique
The Sunsets
and The Downtown Political Boyz ;-)

Riverman1
90740
Points
Riverman1 12/17/12 - 09:52 am
9
1
Now Countyman is arguing over

Now Countyman is arguing over the gang boundary lines. It sounds like he knows all about it. Don't come into my neighborhood wearing the wrong colors. I'm suprised he didn't say we need more young single people and gays to hold the violence down.

countyman
21303
Points
countyman 12/17/12 - 11:09 am
3
4
I'm not going to even waste

I'm not going to even waste my time arguing facts versus other's people opinions.. The FBI crime rates show the deal in terms of Augusta's crime rate today versus 20 years ago.

Corgimom, You live in North Carolina correct? How do you even know what the crime is like in Augusta today?

I clearly said the $200k homes on Willis Foreman are located in South Augusta, and not Hephzibah. People are so quick to respond to my post they don't even read.

You mentioned one homicide in Hephzibah for all of the year 2012. I'm sorry but, Hephzibah is definitely similar to Green Acres. Three homicides in a total of seven years sounds like small town crime too me.

countyman
21303
Points
countyman 12/17/12 - 11:14 am
3
5
The $200k homes on Willis

The $200k homes on Willis Foreman do mean something. The fastest growing neighborhoods in South Augusta are in close proximity to Diamond Lakes. The Spring Creek Village subdivision is under construction right now. Those homes help make the crime rate low, and that's why you had one homicide in seven years.

Patty P. Why do you have to change every story into Augusta is becoming less safe? The RCSO yearly statistics don't back up your opinions. I've mentioned nothing about new businesses coming either on this article.

Riverman.. How can you solve the crime problem if you don't have ears on the street. I mean you guys still refer to 'Sunset' as Cherry Tree Crossing.

countyman
21303
Points
countyman 12/17/12 - 11:22 am
4
2
Corgimom.. Please try and

Corgimom.. Please try and spin this. Since you guys love to make the story about me, and not the facts.

''Crime has a funny way of sneaking into Hephzibah. The city limits only encompass 19 square miles, but the postal district of Hephzibah -- one of the largest in Georgia -- takes up a huge chunk of south Richmond County. As a result, the homicides, aggravated assaults, burglaries and other major crimes are reported as happening in Hephzibah. But the reality about Hephzibah's crime is less exciting, said Police Chief James Lewis.''

"It's just the regular small town stuff," Lewis said. Domestic issues are the chief complaint in Hephzibah and police are frequently breaking up fights at the same houses.

Why is domestic violence the number one crime in Hephzibah? Where the drugs you talk about?

oneofthesane
2201
Points
oneofthesane 12/17/12 - 11:17 am
5
1
crime in these areas
Unpublished

Look at the number of Section 8 housings and single "parent" homes in the areas with the highest crime. With poverty comes crime. And I put the blame on the home owner's that rent out to Section 8. It is sheer greed and laziness that home owner's resort to renting out like that. Put those ppl in units call them apartments all coupled together in one section of the city and let them at each other. Harrisburg perhaps?

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