Sheriff vows to halt shootings, but the criminals aren’t listening

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Published: Apr. 20, 2022 at 9:44 AM EDT|Updated: Apr. 20, 2022 at 11:18 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Gunfire continued to ring out in Augusta hours after the sheriff said “decisive action” is being taken against a rising tide of violence that’s claimed six lives in six days across the CSRA.

“The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office is acutely aware of the uptick in homicides within the last week,” he said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. “The Sheriff’s Office is taking decisive action to investigate these homicides as well as to prevent others in the future.”

The criminals don’t seem to be listening.

Hours after the sheriff made his statement, a Chevron convenience store at 202 East Boundary was struck by several rounds late Tuesday. Deputies say someone fired into the building from the outside and fled the scene. The business was open and no one was hurt, but windows were broken.

Perhaps coincidentally, the Georgia Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a murder conviction for a fatal shooting at a Chevron station at the same location.

It was also Augusta’s second convenience store shooting in 24 hours, although the first one – outside a Circle K at 1739 Walton Way – was fatal.

Roundtree is blaming at least some of the violence on gangs, saying they’re responsible for at least two of Augusta’s slayings in the past week.

“We have plans for selected enforcement action to target those criminals who are participating in gangs and the associated gun violence and drug trafficking,” he said.

This will include “proactive teams conducting operations” in areas recently affected by gang activity and other known high-crime areas, he said.

Deputies will also conduct road checks in targeted areas.

“This activity will continue until these gang members and their associates realize that the Sheriff’s Office will not rest until they stop or are put in jail,” he said.

District Attorney Jared Williams says his office is taking action against gangs, too, with the launch of a violent crimes unit.

But he says this unit alone can’t fight the gang problem.

“While this unit can be more proactive, we as a community have to be proactive. We have to get to these kids early and often. We have to get to them before they get enticed by those gangs,” he said.

Williams says in order to help combat gang violence, the community has to start early working with youth, getting into schools, starting community programs and change behavior.

A deadly week

The sheriff’s statement came after six homicides in the CSRA since last Thursday:

  • A dead female was found just before noon Tuesday outside a vacant home in the 1500 block of Conklin Lane. The death was considered suspicious from the start, but the coroner ruled Tuesday that the death was the result of a homicide. The victim was identified Wednesday as Brittany Kristina Dougherty, 29, of Augusta,
  • Jenefer Holt Herron, 52, of Augusta, died late Monday after being shot during an argument outside the Circle K at 1739 Walton Way . The shooter fled in a gray sport utility vehicle, but suspect Yelena Buckner, 33, of Augusta, was later found and arrested on charges of murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, deputies reported.
Yelena Buckner
Yelena Buckner(WRDW)
  • At 7:23 a.m. Monday, deputies were called to the 1900 block of Old Savannah Road, where a passing motorist found Johnnie Coleman, 72, of Augusta, who’d been shot dead.
  • JaJuan Russell, 21, of the 700 block of East Chapman Street, was fatally shot early Sunday in the 3700 block of Oslo Road. Russell was taken to Augusta University Medical Center. He was pronounced dead at 1:14 a.m. An autopsy was scheduled with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
  • Sandersville police found the body of a man Saturday afternoon inside a home on Gwendolyn Street while responding to a report of a domestic dispute at the address. Santavious Louis Roberts, 35, of Sandersville, has been arrested.
  • Brandon Peebles, 24, of Girard, was shot around 10:45 p.m. Thursday in the 2300 block of Prague Court, the same neighborhood as Sunday’s shooting. He was pronounced dead at 11:23 p.m. Bowen said the victim’s body was sent to the GBI.

Larger crime wave

The fatal shootings come as part of an uptick in violent crime across the region in the past few days:

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