DARLINGTON, S.C. (WBTW) — An onslaught of shootings this year in the Pee Dee region has led to some towns having gun violence rates that exceed Chicago’s, according to an analysis by News13.
In Darlington, nine shootings in the area have led the city to have a rate of 151.52 shootings per 100,000 people, the standard unit of measurement for comparing crime rates.
With rates measured with the number of incidents per 100,000 people, small towns, such as Darlington, which has about 5,950 people, can see a large jump in its rate with every new shooting. Calculations were done based on data compiled by News13.
In the Timmonsville area, the rate has been 129.31 per 100,000 people. In the Hartsville area, there have been 110.33 shootings per 100,000 people this year.
The increase in Pee Dee crime means that those cities have surpassed Chicago’s shootings rate, which was 31.92 per 100,000 people as of May 2. Timmonsville, Lumberton, Laurinburg, Hartsville, Darlington and Bennettsville were all above that rate, as of Tuesday.
Last year, Chicago had a total shootings rate of 79.19 per 100,000 people, a mark that has been surpassed by Darlington, Hartsville and Timmonsville within the first four months of this year.
There have been at least 123 shootings this year within News13’s coverage area, which includes Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Horry, Marion and Marlboro counties in South Carolina, along with Robeson and Scotland counties in North Carolina. Of those, 78 have been non-fatal, with 45 leading to at least one death.
The Darlington Police Department has partnered with other local, state and federal agencies to try and solve its shootings this year, according to Chief Kelvin Washington. He urges anyone with information on any of the city’s nine shootings to contact police directly or anonymously through Crimestoppers.
“We are actively investigating these crimes and are trying to prevent them,” Washington said in an email “We at the Darlington Police Department have committed ourselves and all resources at our disposal to making sure that we have a safe and comfortable environment for our citizens.”
He said the department also has been meeting with area leaders to help find ways to stop gun violence.
There is no nationwide, uniform tracking system to see how many calls for shots fired police receive, and some city crime reports don’t break down homicides by weapons used, or by if someone was injured.
A 2020 report from the FBI states that a city of between 25,000 to 49,999 people (like Conway, Florence and Myrtle Beach) can expect to see a rate of 41.4 aggravated assaults with a firearm — which includes shootings — per 100,000 people. The rate is 35.6 for a city of between 10,000 to 24,999 people (like Laurinburg and Lumberton), and 35.5 for a city of less than 10,000 people (like Bennettsville, Darlington, Hartsville and Timmonsville).
Chicago, while often highlighted for its crime rates, is not the nation’s most violent city. Last year, Detroit saw a homicide rate of 48.46 per 100,000 people, while Chicago’s homicide rate was 18.16. St. Louis and New Orleans have traditionally also ranked near the top of the list.
This year, Bennettsville has seen a rate of 25.87 fatal shootings per 100,000 people, Darlington has seen a 33.67 rate and the Hartsville area has had a 53.04 rate.
While the Hartsville Police Department doesn’t have a theory for why it’s seeing more shootings this year, most of them tend to be drug-related, according to Lt. Mark Blair, a spokesman for the department.
He said the department has been partnering with the Darlington County Sheriff’s Office to help investigate the shootings, which has helped prevent staffing issues. Blair said the city police department has also been working toward arresting drug dealers in an attempt to reduce the crime rate.
He encourages people to make sure their guns are in a locked, safe place to help prevent illegal firearms from getting on the streets.
“We hate to see one get stolen and later used in a crime,” Blair said.
He said that witnesses being unwilling to talk to police has been a barrier in solving crimes. He encourages witnesses to call police later and anonymously give details if they are afraid to speak to authorities on the scene.
Timmonsville Police Chief Thomas McFadden said that some of the shootings have been connected to others throughout the county.
The map below displays shootings that have happened in Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Horry, Marion and Marlboro counties. It also includes shootings in Scotland and Robeson counties in North Carolina.
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Shootings are listed even if no one was injured in the incident. Fatal shootings are marked in red. Non-fatal shootings are marked in blue.
Click on a marker for more details about a shooting. For some shootings, a specific address was not provided by police, and the marker will show a city center or an approximate area as the location of the incident.
Some markers are extremely close together and have to be zoomed in on in order to be distinguished from each other.
The map is updated daily with the most recent information.