Downtown businesses sprayed by BB guns

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November 15, 2006

BB holes are the new feature in downtown Augusta.

Business after business has been hit by vandals in the night.

There are almost 70 reports in now, and it's costing the places where you shop big.

Downtown businesses are in the line of fire, with holes shot through their windows. It's happening on Walton Way, Broad, Reynolds, and Greene streets.

Someone seems to be walking around, firing a BB gun at random. Officers are hoping more patrols and a $2000 reward will stop the problem before it gets any worse.

Cracked glass and the BBs left behind are what Beamies manager William Harrison found on his way into work.

"It's pretty crazy that somebody would come by and shoot randomly," he told News 12.

The victims seem random, but there are similarities in time and geography. The BBs seem to be breaking glass in the late night and early morning hours, all within a five mile radius of downtown.

That's why unmarked patrols will be cruising these streets, according to Lt. Tony Walden.

"A BB gun does have enough power to break windows, and I've got a whole list of businesses downtown that will attest to my observation," Lt. Walden said.

So far 63 businesses have been hit, many of those reported in the past three days.

The shots cause the glass to crack, meaning the window has to be replaced. Across the entire area, that's going to cost business owners more than $20,000.

This isn't the first time Keystone Automotive manager Donnie Beck has faced damages...and he says suspicious groups of people walk past his business all the time.

"Probably no supervision, just walking down the road thinking it's fun," he said.

But it's not fun for the business owners.

"It's still vandalism and it shouldn't happen," Harrison said. "It's uncalled for."

That's why next time the shots fly, the sheriff's office will be waiting--all across downtown.

The $2000 reward goes into effect today. It's yours if you have a tip that leads to a conviction.

Whoever did this is looking at felony charges. The criminal damage charges are felonies, and the criminal trespass charges are misdemeanors.

If you know who might be doing this, call the Richmond County Sheriff's Office.