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Violence again strikes CSRA as U.S. slammed by deadly shootings

Published: Jul. 6, 2021 at 8:33 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 6, 2021 at 9:33 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - At least 150 people were fatally shot nationwide in 400 shootings over the three-day holiday weekend — including homicides in Swainsboro as well as Denmark, S.C., and two Georgia shootings that claimed three lives each.

The “Gun Violence Archive” database compiled a list of shootings and victims nationwide over the July 4 holiday weekend. The 72-hour period from Friday to Sunday saw more than 400 shootings across the country with at least 150 people killed.

In the two-state region:

Dallas Clark
Dallas Clark(WRDW)
  • Golf pro Eugene Siller and two other men were killed in a shooting at an Atlanta-area country club and the killer is still at large. Police say two other dead men were discovered in the bed of a white pickup truck that was on the green at Pinetree Country Club in Kennesaw. Both had apparent gunshot wounds. One was identified as Paul Pierson and the other has not yet been identified. Police believe Siller was killed because he came upon a crime in progress.
  • A shooting at a mobile home park in southeastern Georgia left two women and a man dead. State police say Bulloch County sheriff’s officers found 35-year-old Brittany Sneed Mack on a porch outside a home while answering a call about a shooting Sunday night. Suffering from a gunshot wound, she died on the way to a hospital. News outlets report that officers went inside the residence to discover Kristina Soles and Travis Sneed also dead from gunshot wounds.
  • Atlanta police say a teenager is dead and two more are hurt after a shooting over the weekend. Police say a group of seven teens were fighting Saturday night when gunfire broke out, hitting the three victims. One witness says he heard seven gunshots and saw a group of kids run down the street. A 17-year-old is now in custody in connection with the shooting.
  • In less lethal incidents in the past few days, the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office is looking for Aquinas Bush, 18, after an assault in the 1000 block of Ninth Avenue; the Beaufort County (S.C.) Sheriff’s Office is searching for a suspect in a shooting that wounded two people Monday on Hilton Head Island; a man was shot early Sunday morning at a club in northwest Columbia, S.C.; and an officer and a suspect exchanged fire during a confrontation in Oconee County, S.C.

Although the CSRA wasn’t untouched, the holiday weekend surge in violence wasn’t as extreme as what happened a week earlier when the CSRA saw three homicides in 24 hours.

In connection with one of those slayings, authorities over the weekend arrested 18-year-old Emonte Foster. He’s charged in the June 29 slaying of 35-year-old Milton Heath around the 300 block of Hazelnut Drive in Grovetown, as well as possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.

Emonte Foster
Emonte Foster(WRDW)

If it seems like crime is higher lately in the CSRA, that’s because it is.

Law enforcement agencies told News 12 about a month ago that crime isn’t just going back to the level it was before the pandemic; it’s actually far higher.

Richmond County saw nearly as many shootings in the first five months of 2021 as in all of 2019, authorities told News 12 — and since those officers spoke to us, we’ve seen even more slayings. Richmond County Chief Deputy Patrick Clayton told us then that he expected a surge in violent crime to continue throughout the summer.

The national picture

Over the holiday weekend, there were several mass shootings in the U.S., including three teenagers and a 6-year-old shot in Virginia, four people killed in two separate shootings in Dallas and 14 people killed and 83 injured in multiple shootings in Chicago.

Most violent crimes across the U.S. plummeted during the first six months of the coronavirus pandemic as people stayed indoors and away from others, then started creeping up last summer. Criminologists told the AP this was likely due to a variety of factors such as “historic unemployment, fear of the virus and mass anger over stay-at-home orders.”

Homicides and shootings are up from the same period last year in major U.S. cities, although violent crime overall remains lower than five years ago.

The surge has swept several major cities, including Atlanta, which has seen an uptick in shootings, with 386 counted at the end of June. That’s up 41 percent compared to the same time last year.

The surge even prompted President Joe Biden to give an address June 23 outlining a plan to provide money to cities that need more police, offer community support and crack down on gun violence and those supplying illegal firearms, although Republicans quickly tried to portray his measures as government overreach.

“Crime historically rises during the summer, and as we emerge from this pandemic, the traditional summer spike may be even more pronounced than it usually would be,” Biden said.

The president also announced several executive actions on gun control in April.

From reports by WRDW/WAGT, Gray Media Group, CNN and The Associated Press