Deputies arrest dozens, seize guns as they crack down
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - In a highly visible and proactive effort, Richmond County deputies are working to turn back a tide of deadly shootings that claimed their latest victim early Thursday.
Thursday’s victim, Thaddeus Rodregus Price, 22, of Augusta, was shot just before 1 a.m. at Sycamore Drive and Alpine Road and pronounced dead on the scene at 2:03 a.m.
In the weeks leading up to his death, Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree vowed to confront a wave of shootings that’s been plaguing the CSRA since mid-April.
Some of those efforts were visible Wednesday night in the form of roadblock checkpoints in problem areas. They were part of the multi-agency Operation GRACE – for Gang Resistance and Community Engagement.
On Wednesday night, the agencies set up roadblocks at Bungalow and Richmond Hill roads and at White and Kissingbower roads. Chief Deputy Patrick Clayton said authorities made numerous arrests and recovered illegal drugs and guns.
Although roadblock safety checks were targeted traffic safety due to the upcoming July Fourth holiday weekend, “these checks have the residual effect of curbing gun violence, gang activity and related drug trafficking,” Clayton said.
“Our proactive teams comprised of these agencies were also operating in our hot spot areas and numerous contacts/arrests were made concerning drugs and/or weapons,” he said.
The numbers from Wednesday night’s checkpoints speak for themselves:
- 140 community contacts
- 229 traffic stops
- 118 citations
- 132 warnings
- 29 arrests
- 24 drug cases
- Eight felony cases
- 11 guns
- 16 DUI cases
- Five warrants
- Six pursuits
Of the drugs found, authorities seized 2,745 grams of marijuana, 5.6 grams of cocaine, 67.8 grams of methamphetamine, 128 oxycodone pills and 49 alprazolam pills.
Participating agencies included the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office; FBI: federal Bureau if Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; U.S. Marshals Service. Georgia State Patrol and Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
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Price was killed four days after a Sunday afternoon shooting on Wadley Drive in Aiken left three teenagers dead. One suspect was arrested and another remains at-large in the deaths of 17-year-old Willie L. Garrett IV, 16-year-old Ivan Perry and 16-year-old Cameron Carroll.
Although people are being killed on both the Georgia and South Carolina sides of the CSRA furing the outbreak of violence, Augusta has been hit especially hard.
We’re on pace to pass last year’s total of homicides in Richmond County. Last year’s total was the lowest in three years, but the sheriff’s office says this comes in waves.
Days into the initial outbreak, Roundtree said he was taking “decisive action” to turn back the trend. Blaming at least part of the problem on gangs, he pledged to initiate “proactive teams conducting operations” in areas affected by gangs. He also rolled out plans to install 25 high-tech cameras that can read license plates and match them up with known criminals.
He also pledged checkpoints like Wednesday night’s operation.
Mayor-Elect Garnett Johnson says one of his top priorities is to turn around the crime trend.
“Crime is rampant in our city. This violence and gang-related violence is a problem. I intend on making sure the sheriff’s office has everything he needs to retain and hire the best officers,” said Johnson.
Clayton says more funding can help crack down on violent crime – possibly by using some COVID aid funds for public safety.
A deadly outbreak
Aside from this week’s killings in Augusta and Aiken, other homicides and suspicious deaths in the CSRA since April 14 include:
- Tammy Mantooth, 57, from Lola, Kansas, was pronounced dead June 23 after being found in the back of a sport utility vehicle at Azalea Park Apartments, 1814 Fayetteville Drive in Augusta. The death os considered suspicious.
- A shooting early June 19 in the 700 block of Broad Street claimed the life of 31-year-old Percy Luther Johnson of Fredericksburg, Va.
- Around 3 a.m. Saturday, Trevor Sumpter, 25, of Barnwell, was shot dead in the 200 block of Bomba Street in Barnwell. A suspect has been arrested.
- At 10th and Broad Street in downtown Augusta, a shooting claimed the life of 21-year-old Logan Etterle early June 12. Two suspects have been arrested.
- Also on June 12, Jakwan Gunter, 19, was found shot dead at 11th Avenue and Grand Boulevard. Deputies told News 12 they believe the shooting was gang-related.
- On June 14, 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.
- 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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