Cecil Ridley is the latest victim of gun violence in Richmond County

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Wednesday, November 20, 2019
News 12 at 11 o'clock

RICHMOND COUNTY, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- It was an emotional day for the Richmond County Sheriff's Office as they mourned the death of Investigator Cecil Ridley.

Sheriff Richard Roundtree got choked up while talking about Ridley, who was part of a proactive patrol unit. Proactive patrol units are groups of deupties who check crime hot spots to try and stop it in its tracks. The patrol was put together about a month ago to combat a spike in gun violence in the community.

There have been more than 30 prosecutable homicides in the county this year. While that's about the same number as last year, Sheriff Roundtree said the county has a bigger problem.

"Our gun related crimes went up almost 60 percent from this time last year," he said.

The sheriff called the number of gun related crimes in the county staggering, and said the number of homicides could easily have been higher.

"Those calls where a car gets shot up, a house gets shot up, and no one gets hit, we're taking those just as serious," Sheriff Roundtree said. "That was just by luck that nobody did get hit. That gun violence crime could have easily become a two or three or multiple homicide scene."

Just last month, the sheriff announced a special task force to fight gun violence. He said the team seized 52 illegal guns and made 45 felony arrests in just 15 days.

"If you assign one life per gun, that's potentially 52 lives that were spared in Richmond County," he said. "That's how you have to look at it."

He said the key to lowering the number of homicides in the future is to get rid of the illegal weapons being used.

"If you want to reduce homicides, you have to reduce gun violence," he said. "Because every time a person fires a firearm, that's a potential loss of life."

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