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Community, law enforcement must ‘band together’ to stop gun violence

Published: Oct. 8, 2020 at 7:14 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 9, 2020 at 5:18 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The fight against gun violence in Richmond County is the top priority right now after a recent string of violent crimes. To curb it, it’s going to take help from everyone.

City officials say the shooting at the Augusta Mall over the weekend brought gun violence back to the forefront. But they say they can’t stop it without the community’s help.

“We have seen more of these incidents becoming deadly and fatal in nature. That’s very concerning to us,” Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree said.

According to Roundtree, there have been 26 homicides in Richmond County and 174 aggravated assaults involving guns so far in 2020.

There were similar numbers to this time last year, but last year there wasn’t a pandemic. And now, the sheriff’s office is trying to increase proactive patrols.

“We are pretty much running them seven days a week in the areas in which we see an uptick of gun violence,” Roundtree said.

But he says the real solution will come from the community.

“We need to have the community engaged to the fact of not just looking at the problems we have, but what are the solutions that we can bring,” he said.

“You can’t wait and be a reactive person, right? You have to be proactive about the things going on,” Niki Watson said.

Watson is the executive director of Future Successors, a nonprofit in Augusta focused on fixing these problems early.

“If they know that at a young age, the majority of the time they will stray away from it,” Watson said.

Her group held a gun buy-back day and turned the guns brought into art.

“It’s just showing the kids that something that wasn’t needed, so we broke it down and showed them art and that good can come out of it,” Watson said.

Further change Richmond County will take coming together, working together to keep guns out of the streets.

“We have to band together not just from our law enforcement standpoint but from our faith base, from our civic organizations. That we aren’t going to tolerate this in our community,” Roundtree said.

Roundtree also says authorities need gun owners to be more responsible, and to keep guns out of the hands of those who use them for violence.

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