Homicide victim's family still seeking answers a year later

Tyesha Simmons still doesn’t know who fatally shot her youngest brother at Ridgeview Manor Apartments in North Augusta, but while she waits, she’s trying to help other families struggling with the same questions.

“Something good is coming out of this,” she said. “We’re helping others and it’s helping us.” 

Travis Smith, 28, was killed Sept. 29, 2012, outside an apartment at Ridgeview Manor on Bradleyville Road.

Simmons said her brother had lots of friends who lived there and he would frequently visit the complex near his Bradley Drive home.

Police still don’t have a motive. Witnesses said two men in hoodies fired the shots.

Police offered a $1,000 reward, but no one came forward with information that would lead them to the shooters.

“We’re confident someone out there has information, whether they realize it or not,” said Lt. Tim Thornton, of North Augusta De­part­ment of Public Safety.

Although police acknowledged the apartment complex has “its share of criminal activity,” homicides are rare in the city. This was the first one since 2009.

Simmons had been preparing for her wedding when she got news that the youngest of her three siblings was dead. She buried Smith two days before her wedding.

His death left a 9-year-old girl fatherless and his grandmother, who suffers from dementia, without a full-time caregiver.

“It’s put a strain on the family,” Simmons said of Smith’s death.

As months passed with no answers, Simmons turned to helping other families by creating TeamBoskie, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization named after a family nickname for Smith, that aims to prevent future violence.

“Our motto is ‘Love is stronger than violence,’ ” Simmons said.

The organization, run by Simmons and other family members, has assisted with several stop-the-violence rallies locally in addition to providing support for victims’ families.

Whenever a homicide occurs in Aiken County, Simmons tries to reach out to the victim’s family members to let them know they’re not alone.

“You never know when it will happen to you,” she said.

The family spent the anniversary of Smith’s death supporting one another through family get-togethers handing out flyers at Ridgeview Manor.

“Ridgeview is probably where the answers are,” Simmons said. “Everyone knew him out there. I can’t imagine why no one will say anything.”

Simmons believes no one has come forward because of fear being labeled a “snitch.” Thornton said anyone can leave information with Crimestoppers anonymously.

Police hope the one-year anniversary will bring new information.

“History tells us that we have a rekindled interest in a case, we usually get an influx (in tips),” Thornton said.

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HAVE TIPS?

Call North Augusta Department of Public Safety at (803) 279-2121 or Crimestoppers at (888) CRIME-SC. Callers to Crimestoppers can remain anonymous and are eligible for a $1,000 reward.

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