News 12 at 11, July 12, 2007
AUGUSTA, Ga.---This year Richmond county has seen 16 people murdered . That's only four less than we saw in all of 2006 and it's only July.
Of those 16 homicides, 7 of the suspected killers are under 18 years old.
Now, something new at the Richmond County Law Enforcement Center called Taking Back the Streets.
It's a summit planned for August with a theme of stop the music, stop the violence, stop the crime. And so far the Sheriff Ronnie Strength, Mayor Copenhaver, and other community groups have pledged to help youth get back on track.
Sgt. Richard Roundtree is helping with getting the groups organized. "We have seen young lives taken away from us for no reason at all. This community has now come together to take a stand against this."
Reverend Larry Fryer is also pledging his help. "This is a movement to save lives. And we're not just talking about physical lives we're talking about the lives of our children when it comes to their education."
Radio personality Minnesota Fatz helped to start the movement with Fryer and Sgt. Roundtree. Another public meeting is scheduled July 26 for any other groups that want to join their efforts with a summit planned for sometime in August.
The mother of the most recent victim of crime in Augusta was at the meeting speaking out against the rise in violence that cost her teenage son his life.
Sheila Fryer's teenage son Stedmund was the fourth of her six children. A boy she was raising into a man that he will now never have the chance to become.
" I never expected to bury my child but until it's on your doorstep, you don't know. I don't know how to explain it."
But Monday, Augusta's crime problem hit her doorstep in the worst way. 18-year-old Stedmund Fryer was shot and killed in the middle of a crowded dance floor.
"I'm hurt, definitely. I want my son back. I want my son back. He didn't deserve this." cries his mother.
The same little boy who loved the color red, his snoopy sweatshirt, was good at math, and liked to play baseball.
A child who spent his summers going to family reunions and practicing football, had grown into a teenage statistic.
As a teenager, he had some run-ins with the law. He dropped out of Laney High School as a Junior but his mother says she was working to help Stedmund get his life back on track.
He was planning to get his GED and hopefully attend military school. A plan Sheila will never see fulfilled. "I have nothing to show for my son. No diploma, no degree, no grand kids, no wedding pictures."
Investigators say 18-year-old Darion McNair pulled the trigger that ended Stedmund's young life. All over a disagreement.
"It's a senseless, heartless, coward way out."
Yet this mother says she refuses to harbor anger against the person who murdered her youngest son.
"I don't hate him. I feel sorry for him. I pray for him at night."
But she also prays for Stedmund and hopes is 18 years were not in vein. That's why she's speaking out against the growing problem of teen violence and praying the community will come together to stop it.
"It affects everybody in one way or another sooner or later."
Memorial services for Stedmund Fryer are complete. His viewing is scheduled Friday from 6pm until 8pm at May's Mortuary. The funeral is scheduled Saturday at noon at Thankful Baptist Church.