News 12 at 11 o'clock / Monday, May 13, 2013
AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW) -- An Aiken County man is back behind bars after being charged with a Mother's Day crime.
Kennard Thomas, 22, is accused of pulling out a gun and pointing it at family members during a gathering in New Ellenton.
It's not the first time Thomas has been in trouble with the law, which made him a perfect candidate for the Safe Communities program in Aiken County.
However, officers say they hope his case will be a lesson for others.
"If you re-offend, you will be expedited and pushed through the system," said a team member of A-SCAT.
Thomas already has a criminal record, so this Monday's arrest is enough to put him right back into jail -- all because he didn't follow the rules of a crime prevention program he was a part of aimed at helping violent criminals.
"If you violently re-offend, we are going to make an example out of you," a police officer told News 12.
Officers say Thomas' situation should show other participants in the Aiken Safe Community Action Team, or A-SCAT, that they will go back behind bars if they are even charged with another violent crime.
"Within several hours on Sunday, we had a task force to go out and look for this individual for however long it took to gain his attention and hopefully arrest him," said an officer involved with the program.
Thomas wasn't arrested then, but officers say he must have felt them closing in on him because he turned himself in this Monday morning.
"This young man as well as the others were also given opportunities to touch base with team members," said Shelby Saunders.
Saunders met Thomas at the first A-SCAT meeting, but says he hasn't heard from him since.
He says things could have gone differently had he completed the initial assessment.
"I think it differently would've helped. He would've known that he had somebody to turn to. Maybe his circumstance were where he was put in a bind -- but if he would've met with us, he may have know how to deal with it differently then how it was taken this weekend," Saunders said.
Saunders says the program is set up for personal responsibility and it only works if the ex-cons are willing to change.
Thomas had his hearing on Monday. A rep from the the program requested no bond and the magistrate agreed. They won't release anything else because the case is still pending.
There's about 11 people in the program, and Saunders told News 12 that two of those have taken complete advantage of the program. Those two have found jobs and Saunders hopes others will follow their example instead.
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