What are deputies doing about local surge in slayings?

Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 7:11 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 21, 2022 at 9:21 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - In the past several months, we’ve heard from Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree about the outbreak of violence.

In August, he told us it’s not something just happening in Augusta but a nationwide trend.

In April, Roundtree said we needed more involvement from the community. He said we cannot arrest our way out of a problem.

We checked back with his agency after two shooting deaths in Augusta and another two people injured by gunfire, making three total shootings since Friday.

Chief Deputy Patrick Clayton with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office tells us the recent string of shootings are not connected but have one thing in common.

He says his team is working hard to tackle gun and gang violence, but it’s going to take time.

“The commonality of all three of these shootings is that these are people that they’re going out looking for trouble and they are finding it,” he said.

The victims ranged from 14 to 19 years old. One of the victims in the double homicide on Cascade Drive had an active warrant out. He was wanted in connection to another murder.

“We do believe that the incident last night was potentially gang-related,” said Clayton.

He says they have been tackling gun and gang violence with programs like Operation Grace and Augusta Giving Back to connect with people and cut down on crime.

“If you want to figure out crime, you and I talked about this before, Clare, all you gotta do is go to any major city and go to the poor areas. That’s where your violent and high crime is going to be, and that’s some of the areas we concentrated on during Operation Grace,” he said.

Clayton says they are seeing repeat offenders and too many people with stolen guns using them illegally.

“I know some adult parents buy their children handguns,” he said.

He says the work his team is doing can only go so far. It all starts at home.

“Frequently what we see with these young offenders is that they are totally unsupervised,” he said. “Guess what, we’re catching most of the shooters and murderers.”

On Wednesday, the sheriff and the FBI are giving the city an update on Operation Grace, a three-month operation to crack down on gang violence and criminal activity.

A surge in slayings

Although Augusta has been especially hard-hit by a surge in violent crime since mid-April, the city has not been alone.

There have been more than 30 homicides and suspicious deaths across the CSRA since April 14.

Here’s a look at those cases: