What sheriff says about outbreak of gun violence in Augusta
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - We’re seeing a rising rate of deadly crimes impacting our youth.
The numbers continue to grow, and now the community is turning to Sheriff Richard Roundtree for answers and solutions.
We sat down with him to ask about any efforts to prevent these crimes and where the cases involving Buddy Brown and Zaire Person stand.
Right now, Roundtree tells us they’re still working on both cases. But it’s leaving the community with questions. Where do we go from here? How do we solve this problem?
For the last 10 years, Roundtree says shootings and homicides have consistently made the headlines. Including 2022, we saw one of the highest homicide and shooting numbers in the last eight years.
“Gun violence has been our albatross here in Richmond County. We try to throw every resource we can. And unfortunately, as time has progressed, the victims and the perpetrators are becoming younger and younger. That’s what’s disheartening,” he said.
It’s a problem the sheriff says is happening all too often, including almost weekly in Augusta.
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“We’re losing these lives and losing the next generations right here in Augusta. And I don’t think people see that picture. We see it in law enforcement, but people see it as a headline, and then they move on. I don’t think they are taking it serious enough that this is a community problem,” he said.
Roundtree says three parts need to go towards solving this issue. Responsible gun ownership and gun safety so guns aren’t stolen, more resources, mentorships, and funding for young people, and responsibility from the parents in this community.
He also says so often these kids aren’t being looked after, and parents aren’t aware their kids are bringing guns into their homes.
“The parents and loved ones outraged after a shooting happened or their 13, 14, or 15-year-old is murdered in the streets of Augusta. But it was no outrage when they were coming in at three or four in the morning or leaving for three or four days, or hanging with a group of guys who are in nefarious habits or selling drugs in gangs. And you knew this happening, and you’re not intervening. And that’s why I say it’s a societal problem. It’s not just law enforcement,” he said.
We asked him how parents can talk to their children about this.
“Parents need to understand everything that those kids are bringing into their home. It’s about just being a parent and being a responsible parent. That’s why I said when these shootings happen and someone’s kid takes another kid’s life, you know, some of that responsibility you’ve seen, they prosecute in other cases, falls on the parent for allowing that gun to be possessed illegally by that juvenile. And I don’t think again, I don’t think we put enough emphasis on that. We don’t put enough light on that. Again, we get outraged too much at the wrong things.”
Roundtree tells us his community policing efforts have been working and are still working. He says violent crimes are down in Richmond County, which according to data we have, they are — except for homicides and shootings.
“We’re losing a generation of young people. And I don’t think we in society, especially in Richmond County, are looking at it that way,” he said.
Roundtree says moving forward, a big part of crime reduction is going to be technology. He says they’re working on their downtown camera project and they hope to expand that throughout the entire community in the future.
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