Deputies say Wednesday shootings retaliatory, gang-related

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May 2, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga.---Before they could finish at the scene of one shooting, Richmond County investigators were called to another one.

Both shootings happened less than a mile apart--the first on Wrightsboro Road and the second within the Gilbert Manor complex.

Two people were shot, but their injuries are not life-threatening.

Tonight investigators have their work cut out for them. They believe these shootings are definitely related to other cases and are now interlinking several crimes.

The sight of police tape, deputy cars and suspects being taken away has become all too common in Gilbert Manor. Today it was more of the same.

Deputies were called to the complex after two shootings, the first at 1400 Wrightsboro Road and the second near Spellman Road.

Richmond County sheriff's deputies say the crimes are connected and also linked to another shooting on March 19 at the Pak-n-Go gas station on Olive Road. A 19-year-old man was shot in that case:

"We're investigating a possibility of a retaliation," said Inv. Edwin Ackerknecht. "Maybe, we don't know if there was a report of the incident, but some bystanders have said that there was a possible shooting going on prior to the injuries that occurred."

According to investigators, the incidents are also gang-related-and they point to other crimes.

"With the evidence we found, we feel pretty confident it will lead us to a couple of cases," Inv. Ackerknecht said.

"I really wish it would stop," said Augusta resident Catherine Head. "There are too many people leaving here on account of a bullet."

Catherine knows personally the pain that these shootings have caused. Her grandmother, Rosa Lee Barnes, was shot and killed in July of 1997 after stray bullets flew into her bedroom on 8th Avenue.

Catherine says the shootings have gotten out of control:

"All y'all young peoples out there getting these guns, going around shooting everybody, thinking y'all all that...y'all need to leave it alone," she said.

"And it's been close deaths, it's been people we know and families," said another Augustan, Stephanie. "When you lose your loved one it stays with you, but it stays with you more when you realize you lost that person for no reason."

"What's the point?" Catherine asked. "When you shoot and kill somebody then they're going to be looking for you. You know you going to get locked up."

"Life is very short, so we need to make the most of it, and start living better and doing better," Stephanie said.

As for suspects, authorities say they know who they're looking for. That's why right now they are not releasing the names.

They're hoping to be able to connect these crimes together and bring multiple charges all at once.

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