Richmond County deputies stretched thin

By  | 

July 31, 2006

Five shootings have left three people dead over the last nine days in Richmond County.

Several investigators were called into work while on vacation, many working round the clock to solve the crimes.

The county already has almost as many homicides this year as they did for all of 2005, and its only July.

In total, there have been 14 homicides so far this year, three of them in the last week.

"It was definitely a bad week," says Maj. Ken Autry. "Homicides are definitely up this year compared to last year."

In 2005 Richmond County investigated a total of 15 homicides. And the number for this year is almost certain to grow.

"Unless we don't have a homicide the rest of the year, and that would be wishful thinking," Maj. Autry says.

Investigators hope to avoid another busy week like the one that just ended.

"Definitely not business as usual. A lot of drama, a lot of drama."

Sheriff Ronnie Strength has a plan to prevent another rash of crimes.

"We've looked at the situation and he's beefing up the patrols in that area with some of the special teams he still has left," Maj. Autry says. "They look at the times when crime is up and they add patrols to that area...sort of what we did with Riverwalk."

And as for anything else, Maj. Autry says his investigators will handle what comes their way the best they can.

"We really don't have the staff to do much proactive type of work, we're only staffed to react, to be frank with you."

And today, investigators continue to try and solve what they can while preparing for what lies ahead.

"Now we're tying up loose ends and bracing for whatever comes next."

Of the three deaths from last week, investigators believe they have solved two, and those suspects are now behind bars. Sgt. Richard Roundtree says they are still aggressively working to solve the third, the body found Wednesday at the Lock and Dam.

Investigators have not said if crime is up overall this year. They said we will have to wait and see how the rest of the year pans out before we can know for sure.

For now they are hoping it was just a bad week.