February 14, 2006
Already this year we’ve seen a handful of murders committed, and three of those were in Richmond County. News 12 is on your side with a closer look at what the trend says about your safety.
While three murders in one county sounds like a lot, investigators say it’s actually the same amount compared to this time last year.
Yellow crime tape has been popping up all over the area, almost every other week this year.
With the most recent murder early in the morning on Valentine’s Day, neighbors say Ephelius Bryant was on his way to drop off his daughter’s Valentine’s gift when he was shot and killed.
“We do know it’s an ongoing dispute between different groups of people and we expect an arrest will be made,” said Lt. Scott Peebles.
The first murder of the year was committed by hurricane evacuees. 26-year-old Edward Burns was shot in the arm, leg and chest. He died last month.
“Again, two groups of people fighting, they’d go to one place and fight, another crew would follow and it’d be a back and forth until someone ends up dead,” Peebles said.
Not long after that murder, police say 18-year-old Vernon Ryans, Jr. accidentally shot his 16-year-old cousin Justin Brown while playing with a gun in Jackson. Less than a week later, Ryans is arrested again, this time for his involvement in the murder of semi-professional athlete Jeffery Ellison, gunned down on Central Avenue.
The deaths seem random, but investigators say there is a common thread running through each one, the victims all knew their killers.
“Person knows well, has some ongoing dispute with in one way or another,” Peebles said.
Disputes that have been documented, giving police a better chance of making an arrest.
“The second murder of the year, Jeffery Ellison, just like in that case law enforcement was familiar with a dispute had been going on when we responded,” Peebles said.
Investigators suggest if you are involved in any kind of dispute and fear your life may be in danger you should contact authorities immediately so they can document it, and possibly prevent more violence.