Pee Dee law enforcement agencies reflect on rise in gun violence

Pee Dee Crime

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WBTW) – The number of murders in South Carolina is up more than 50% in the past five years, a trend that local law enforcements are also experiencing.

In May, the shooting rate in Hartsville and Darlington so far this year topped that of Chicago. So far this month, eight shootings have already taken place; four of which were fatal.

In 2021, there have been 60 shooting deaths 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.

Major Mike Nunn with the Florence County Sheriff’s Office said the department’s deputies are responding to more drive-by shootings and shots fired into homes calls, but made it clear the issue is not lawful gun carriers.

“Some of the violent trends we are seeing are by repeat offenders who either are already convicted and released, or they are out on bond waiting for trial,” Nunn said. “It’s rare when we see a first-time offender involved in something as violent as we have here lately.”

He said many of the shootings the department investigates are crimes of opportunity, which are difficult to prevent.

Lieutenant Mike Blair at the Hartsville Police Department shared a similar sentiment.

“Over the past six months or so it’s kind of been different for us,” he said. “We’ve had arguments that turn into gun violence. Whereas if you asked me to talk about gun violence two years ago, it would have been gang members or drug dealers fighting over territory or things like that.”

Dillon County deputies said have started to increase patrols and work more often with federal and state agencies to prevent and solve shootings.

Law enforcement agencies stressed the importance of community involvement in preventing crime.

Nunn said most gun crimes committed in Florence County are done with a stolen firearm.

“Make sure that your gun is safely secured so that it’s not capable of being accessed by anyone who isn’t qualified or without permission to access it,” he said. “That certainly means, do not leave your firearm in your vehicle overnight; that is where the vast majority of handguns are stolen.”

Fatal shootings are marked in red. Non-fatal shootings are marked in blue. Click on a marker for more details about a shooting. Some markers are extremely close together and have to be zoomed to see. The map is updated daily with the most recent information.

Shootings are listed even if no one was injured in the incident. 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.

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