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Richmond County continues to struggle with rash of killings

Published: Jun. 20, 2022 at 4:55 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - A wave of fatal shootings continues to plague Richmond County, with four in a about a week.

The latest one happened in the early hours of Sunday in the 700 block of Broad Street.

The Richmond County Coroner’s Office says 31-year-old Percy Luther Johnson of Fredericksburg, Va., was shot at least one time. He was taken to Augusta University Medical Center by emergency medical crews and pronounced dead at 2:43 a.m. Sunday. An autopsy has been scheduled.

The shooting was only three blocks away from where 21-year-old Logan Etterle was fatally shot almost exactly a week early.

Authorities say the shooting happened around 2 a.m. June 12 at 10th and Broad streets as Etterle was in a physical confrontation with two men.

Authorities have arrested D’Andre Tandy, 26, who’s accused of pulling the trigger, as well as Keyon Smiley, 31.

The same morning Etterle was shot, Jakwan Gunter, 19, was found shot dead at 11th Avenue and Grand Boulevard. Deputies told News 12 they believe the shooting was gang-related.

And then on Tuesday, Eurl Kittles, 42, of Augusta, was fatally shot at a Captain D’s restaurant at 3166 Wrightsboro Road. Authorities are searching for Ravanell Gomillion, 40, in connection with the slaying.

If that seems like a lot of fatal shootings in a week, that’s because it is. In fact, the FBI’s latest available crime stats rank Augusta with the 32nd highest per capita murder rate in all major U.S. cities.

We spoke with an Augusta University professor who shared insight into the common interest he shares with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office to help reduce gun violence.

TACKLING LOCAL CRIME:

“We know what works. We’re not lacking resources, but I think we are lacking a willingness to invest,” said Dr. Todd Powell Williams, associate professor of sociology and criminal justice.

The local surge in violence seemed to start emerging in April, when it was mostly centered in Richmond County. Then we started to see more homicides across the Savannah River in Aiken County as well as in smaller places in Georgia like Washington County.

Days into the initial outbreak, Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree said he was taking “decisive action” to turn back the trend.

Blaming at least part of the problem on gangs, he said: “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 would include “proactive teams conducting operations” in areas recently affected by gang activity and other known high-crime areas, he said.

Deputies also said they’d conduct road checks in targeted areas, and they’re using surveillance cameras in key places.

And all those actions were before saw a week with four fatal shootings.

Aside from the four shootings in Augusta, homicides since April 14 in the CSRA include:

  • On June 3 in the 100 block of Pelzer Street in Warrenville, 34-year-old Lacey Toole was shot dead by her boyfriend John Williams, who then turned the gun on himself.
  • On June 2 on Summerhill Avenue, 37-year-old Yoni Vargas shot his wife, 33-year-old Rosa Salguero-Landaverde, then killed himself.
  • On May 29, a shooting killed two people – 17-year-old William Mykell Lowery and 30-year-old Christopher “Scooter” Dunn – at a “Freaknik”-themed party being held at a ballpark outside Sandersville, Ga. The shooting is believed to be the result of an altercation.
  • Patricia Dent, 65, was strangled to death by her boyfriend Joseph McKinnon, who then buried her body in their yard at 102 Tanglewood Drive in Trenton, authorities say. They learned of her death on May 7 after finding McKinnon dead of a heart attack he suffered while burying Dent.
  • A shooting just before 7:30 p.m. on April 23 claimed the life of Rodriquez Dunn, 31, at the Olmstead Homes in the 2100 block of B Street in Augusta. Dunn suffered at least one gunshot wound and died at the scene.
  • On April 19, Brittany Dougherty was found slain outside a vacant home in the 1500 block of Conklin Lane. Her death was considered suspicious from the start, but within hours the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office ruled her death a homicide.
  • On April 18, Johnnie Coleman was found shot dead in the 1900 block of Old Savannah Road. Authorities released a photo of a car suspected to have been linked to that slaying. Kelvin Lewis, 33, has been arrested as a suspect in the murders of Coleman and Dougherty.
  • Jenefer Holt Herron, 52, of Augusta, died late April 18 after being shot during an argument outside the Circle K at 1739 Walton Way in Augusta. 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.
  • JaJuan Russell, 21, of Augusta, was fatally shot early April 17 in the 3700 block of Oslo Road in Augusta. Russell was taken to Augusta University Medical Center.
  • Sandersville police found the body of a man on April 16 inside a home on Gwendolyn Street while responding to a report of a domestic dispute at the address. Santavious Louis Roberts, 35, of Sandersville, was arrested.
  • Brandon Peebles, 24, of Girard, was shot around 10:45 p.m. on April 14 in the 2300 block of Prague Court. He was pronounced dead at 11:23 p.m.

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