ADDRESSING YOUTH CRIME: Midland communities call for stop to recent gun violence

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO) — According to the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, there have been 17 murders in the county this year.

Of the 28 people charged in these cases, 24 are under the age of 30, with 10 of those being juveniles.

“We believe at Richland County that we cannot just talk about this. We cannot have meetings about this. It is time for us to go to work,” said Gretchen Barron, District 7 Richland County councilwoman.

Barron says she and fellow council members are looking to put funding towards initiatives to help prevent violence in the Columbia area.

Sheriff Leon Lott says one thing that would help is harsher punishments for the unlawful possession of a firearm.

“Those are things that will have an immediate impact on the problem that we got,” said the Richland County sheriff. “These young kids are carrying these guns, get caught and are not held accountable for it.”

The cry to end gun violence is also being heard in Newberry County where four teens were recently killed.

“Oh Father, I ask you to do whatever you have to do to take guns out of the hands of young people,” said Jack Logan, founder of the group Put Down the Guns Now Young People.

One evangelist in the Newberry community is related to one of the young men who lost their lives to gun violence. 

“Today, I’ve been making some calls because I’m trying to do something,” said Newberry evangelist Jacqueline Sims. “I love these children and I’m tired of burying my young men. If you know your kid got a gun, call me. I’m not afraid of them.”

One speaker asked for more outlets for kids to get recreation and outside of school help.

“We have to start community outreach programs to teach our children how to apply themselves to get into college and tech schools,” said a member of the Fellowship Lodge in nearby Pomaria.

In Richland County, Sheriff Lott agrees, saying that kids need something positive to do with school ending.

“We got to look as a community about what to do to keep these kids busy. Summer’s here,: Lott said. “What plans does a parent have for their child during the summer? What plans does this community have for these kids to do something during this summer?”

Despite the issues with youths and gun violence this summer, the sheriff says it mainly comes from a small group of repeat offenders.

“There’s a lot more good things going on than bad things,” Lott said. “We just got to reduce this number here.”


Categories: Local News, Newberry, Richland