Aiken County law enforcement agencies discuss crime outbreak
AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - The Aiken community is grappling with five shooting deaths in a week as authorities search for suspects in both cases.
Authorities haven’t released suspect descriptions in the latest shooting, which killed Barry J. Redding, 39, and Stephan A. Poole, 40, of Aiken, late Saturday in Room 229 of the Days Inn at 2654 Columbia Highway North.
In the other shooting, which claimed the lives of three teenagers on June 25 on Wadley Drive, suspect Alvin Artis IV, 20, remains at large after two other suspects were arrested.
We don’t know about a motive in the Days Inn killings.
While this is a string of violence in Aiken County, leaders with the Aiken Public Safety say it’s a much different case inside the city limits.
“This year so far in the city limits, we’re trending downward for our murders and our violent crimes,” said Lt. Jennifer Hayes with Aiken Public Safety.
Those violent crimes are classified as aggravated assault, which covers a wide range of crimes.
“That could be anything from a shooting to a violent assault involving a knife or even personal weapons like hands and feet,” she said.
Of these crimes in the city, only one is considered murder. That’s a big difference from previous years.
“In 2021, we did have one unfortunate domestic incident that resulted in six victims at one time, so our overall murder number was 12 murder victims for 2021,” said Hayes.
That’s just in the city.
Outside the city limits, authorities blame gangs for the Wadley Drive shooting, which killed 17-year-old Willie Garrett IV and 16-year-olds Ivan Perry and Cameron Carroll.
Sheriff Michael Hunt said, “There’s no doubt that this senseless violence is the result of gang members who have no regard for the sanctity of life.”
Hunt’s gang task force investigators and the community are crucial to piecing together what happened.
Getting information is what Hayes believes helps keep violent crimes lower.
“We feel very strongly that the way to create and maintain a safe community is by working with our community partners. When you see something, say something,” she said.
Deputies say they work hard to prevent things like this from happening, so when it does happen, it impacts deputies and the community hard.
“It is a true tragedy because not only do we have victims’ families left behind, but now we have families of these young men that are greatly impacted as well,” said Hunt. “This is something that is not necessary.”
He said it’s “a tragedy for somebody so young to be involved in such a violent act.”
Although Artis is still being sought in connection with the Wadley Drive shooting, suspect Xabian Bailey, 18, and a 15-year-old have been arrested.
The shootings are part of an outbreak that’s swept the CSRA in recent weeks, initially hitting Richmond County hard and eventually spreading across the Savannah River.
A troubling part of the trend across the CSRA has been shootings that claimed multiple lives in one incident. In addition to the latest shootings, there have been two recent murder-suicides in Aiken County.
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Other homicides and suspicious deaths in the CSRA since April 14 include:
- On June 30, Thaddeus Rodregus Price, 22, of Augusta, was shot just before 1 a.m. at Sycamore Drive and Alpine Road in Augusta and pronounced dead on the scene at 2:03 a.m.
- 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. June 18, 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 in Aiken, 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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