Sheriff Sounds off on Ferguson Violence

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By Rochelle Dean

(WOLO) COLUMBIA,S.C., --

"Just how that whole incident happened last week i think was a huge spark that started a fire that's been smoldering for a long time."
Those are the words of Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott during a speech at the Rotary club Monday afternoon.

Lott says the event was already scheduled before the violence erupted in Ferguson, Missouri, but said he wanted to talk about the issue after receiving so many questions concerning if something similar could happen here at home.

Police in armored vehicles, tear gas being launched into a crowd of protestors just outside of the ferguson police department is an image of a community whose anger has gone from bad to worse.
after scenes like - sheriff leon lott says it's no surprise the unrest continues escalating.

" was it justified? i don't know but putting people in an armed stance like that scares the heck out of everybody. it looked bad."

But Sheriff lott says the controversy and questions surrounding the shooting death of teen Michael Brown did not have to come to this.
While Lott says the citizens, who are looting and robbing locally owned businesses in protest of the deadly shooting are wrong.
Some of the actions of the police department in response hasn't been much better.

" You don't point a gun at somebody unless you are going to use it and there pointing guns at people they're not going to shoot, that wasn't necessary."

Regardless of who was in the wrong- lott says it may have very well been avoided if the police department had a better relationship with the community.

Lott says he does not believe the issue are going to change overnight but does plan to use the ongoing incidents as a teaching tool for what not to do.

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