Crime takes no holiday: CSRA shootings kill 2, injure 7
A summertime crime surge continues to grip the CSRA along with other parts of Georgia and South Carolina, leaving deaths and injuries in the aftermath of Fourth of July celebrations.
Between shootings and stabbings that caused deaths and injuries in Aiken, Richmond and Barnwell counties, and deadly gunfire in Atlanta and Greenville, S.C., it was a violent weekend for some parts of the region.
The crime across Georgia led Gov. Brian Kemp to declare a state of emergency and authorize the activation of as many as 1,000 Georgia National Guard troops to deal with the problem, if needed.
In Aiken County
At 8:50 p.m. Sunday, the Aiken County Coroner’s Office was called to two homes on Maple Street in Salley regarding a shooting incident involving fatalities.
Thembi Chalmers, 43, who lives at 227 Maple St., was pronounced dead in the home from a gunshot wound.
The suspect, Chalmers’ boyfriend, Levi Bonnett, 45, who lived in the home, walked to 210 Maple St., where he killed himself, according to Coroner Darryl Ables.
A domestic dispute between the two is believed to have led up to the shooting.
Chalmers will be autopsied in Newberry, and toxicology specimens are pending on the suspect.
In Richmond County
In Augusta, the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office dealt with two shootings within an hour of each other.
The first shooting, a domestic incident, was reported at 7:17 p.m. Sunday in the 3600 block of Goldfinch Drive, according to authorities.
Upon arrival, a deputy spoke with Erica Davis, 29, who didn’t wish to speak to officers and was uncooperative at the time of the call, according to authorities. She was detained pending further information, according to authorities.
The victim was a 30-year-old man found near Meadowbrook and Sturnidae drives with an apparent gunshot wound to his arm and side, authorities reported.
While the deputy was trying to verify information, Davis made several spontaneous utterances about the incident “and stated she accidentally shot the victim while they were involved in a verbal/physical altercation,” the deputy wrote.
Davis was arrested on suspicion of possession of a firearm or knife during a crime and aggravated assault, according to authorities.
In a separate incident in Augusta, one person was taken to a hospital with injuries suffered in a shooting just before 8 p.m. Sunday.
After arriving at the crime scene in the 3600 block of Massoit Drive, a deputy found the victim, a 33-year-old man, on the floor in the rear bedroom of the residence. The victim said he had gotten into an altercation with someone and had been shot in the back of the right leg.
The deputy applied a tourniquet before an ambulance arrived and took the victim to a hospital.
Authorities said Monday morning they are looking for Jarvis Bonner, 20, on suspicion of aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime in connection with the incident.
District Attorney Natalie Paine characterized both Augusta shootings as domestic incidents.
Also in Augusta, Richmond County deputies are looking for a woman suspected of aggravated assault in connection with a stabbing that happened Sunday on B Street near Broad Street and Milledge Road.
Shawnkuri Walker is wanted on suspicion of aggravated assault and possession of a knife. She is described as 20 years old, 5 feet 2 inches tall, weighing 116 pounds, with black hair colored red, and brown eyes. Anyone with information about her is asked to call Sgt. James Tredore at 706-821-1035.
In Barnwell County
Elsewhere in the CSRA, five people were sent to a hospital after a shooting Saturday night outside a house party in the Red Oak community of Barnwell County.
Most of the five victims were teenagers, according to authorities.
Across the two-state region
Kemp’s office said Monday afternoon that after “weeks of dramatically increased violent crime and property destruction” in Atlanta and more than 30 Georgians being wounded by gunfire and at least five killed over the July Fourth weekend, he had issued Executive Order 07.06.20.01, which declares a state of emergency across Georgia and authorizes the activation of as many as 1,000 Georgia National Guard troops.
“This lawlessness must be stopped and order restored in our capital city,” Kemp said in a statement.
He went on to say: “This measure will allow troops to protect state property and dispatch state law enforcement officers to patrol our streets. Enough with the tough talk. We must protect the lives and livelihoods of all Georgians.”
The Georgia Guard will provide support at state buildings, including the Georgia Capitol, Georgia Department of Public Safety headquarters and Governor’s Mansion. This will allow state law enforcement personnel to increase patrols on roadways and throughout communities, especially in Atlanta, his office said.
Here’s a look at some of the crime over the July Fourth weekend in Georgia and South Carolina:
In Atlanta, an 8-year-old girl was shot and killed Saturday night near the burnt-out Wendy’s where Rayshard Brooks died. Police say they were trying to enter a parking lot nearby and they ran into a group of armed individuals who blocked the entrance. Someone in the group opened fire, striking the vehicle multiple times, and one of the bullets killed the girl, Secoriea Turner. The death has prompted a $10,000 reward for information as authorities in Atlanta search for at least two people who opened fire in the area that has become a site for frequent demonstrations.
News outlets report one person was shot and killed and two others were hurt late Sunday in a separate incident just yards from where Secoriea was shot.
Also in Atlanta, two people suffered smoke inhalation after protesters stormed the Georgia Department of Public Safety headquarters on Saturday. Investigators say nearly 100 people showed up after midnight, dressed in dark clothing and masks. Authorities say the group threw rocks and spray painted the building. Someone also tossed an incendiary device into the facility, causing a small fire and leading to the treatment of two employees for smoke inhalation. No arrests have been made.
In Greenville, S.C., a shooting at a nightclub killed two people early Sunday. Deputies arrived at the Lavish Lounge after hearing multiple gunshots inside the club. There were a total of eight injuries, and two people were killed: 23 year old Mkayla Bell and 51 year old Sterling Johnson. Deputies have four people of interest in this case. Sheriff Hobart Lewis said a “very large crowd” was at the nightclub for “some type of concert.”
What’s behind the local crime surge?
As News 12 reported last week, Richmond County is seeing an increase in crime, which had plunged at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
In Richmond County, the increase has been violent.
It comes after violent crime had dropped 50% during March and April compared to last year, and overall crime plunged 25% during the stay-at-home order.
The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office said it has seen a slight increase in domestic violence calls this year, with 10 more in June 2020 than in June 2019.
And the Meadowbrook Drive area, where two of the domestic shootings happened, has actually seen a decrease in law enforcement calls this year compared to last year. This is one of the areas the sheriff’s agency has been implementing proactive patrols.
Deputies say there’s no known connection for most of the recent crimes, and they can’t be sure whether the spike is related to the relaxation of coronavirus restrictions.
Among the recent local homicides:
- A shooting early June 26 at an Augusta shopping center claimed the life of 36-year-old Miguel Reyes, of Augusta..
- Also before dawn June 26, a male was shot dead in the McDuffie County community of Dearing.
- Terrance Cumber, 24, was accused of fatally shooting Ahmad Popal around 2 a.m. June 21 in the 1200 block of Broad Street in Augusta.
- Kareen Williams, 25, is accused in the June 20 stabbing death of Timothy McBride in Augusta. Investigators found McBride in a ditch outside the Azalea Park Apartments on Fayetteville Drive.
- A June 19 shooting left Nicole Harrington dead in a downtown Augusta parking deck and led to the arrest of former deputy Jason Cunningham after an hourslong standoff.
- A June 19 shooting left Benigno Santos man dead at a residence in the 4900 block of Mike Padgett Highway in Augusta.
- Vivian Marshall, 78, of Augusta, died June 19 after being taken to a hospital after suffering what authorities call severe neglect that included extensive ant bites. Her son Kenneth Leverett was arrested.
- Devin Williams and Brandon Odom were shot dead in separate incidents June 11 Aiken County, S.C. They were part of a string of shootings that also left one person injured in what started as a family dispute.
From reports by WRDW/WAGT and The Associated Press