MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — News13’s shootings map shows 80 people have died from gun violence in our area in 2022.
Seventeen of the 80, or just over 21%, killed are 19 years old and younger. The youngest victim was an 8-year-old boy in Florence County. The most recent victim was a 14-year-old in a shooting just outside of Conway.
Myrtle Beach community activist Timothy McCray has a personal connection with teen gun deaths. One of his mentees, Atu Williams, accidentally shot and killed himself in 2016.
“So it was personal for me to come back in this community to address these issues and work on the prevention and the intervention,” McCray said. “How do we begin to address those young men––tracking them?”
McCray’s pushing for an Horry County youth gun violence task force which would include elected officials, organizational leadership and police. He said at-risk teens are too easily falling through the cracks.
“We need to begin to look at targeting those kids that are not going to those Boys and Girls Clubs, not going to our community centers and stuff like that and youth programs, but out here in the streets and how can we provide some services for them,” McCray said.
The Florence County Sheriff’s Office said most violent crimes in the county are committed by people between 18 and 25 years old who already have a criminal record. Maj. Mike Nunn with the department said the ages of those committing violent crimes are trending younger with the pattern intensifying within the past year.
“I think that’s a fairly common thread that we’re seeing not only here but in other parts of the country as well,” Nunn said. “It’s very disturbing.”
On Aug. 1, the Florence County Sheriff’s Office started a task force partnership with the Florence Police Department. The Florence County Violent Crime Task Force allows deputies and officers to work together, giving officers authority in county donut holes within the city and vice versa.
Nunn said six arrests were made, six stolen guns were seized and cash and drugs were seized in the task force’s opening week.
“Our deputies and the city’s officers are working together at the same time in these hot spots, and we think it’s having an effect,” Nunn said.
Nunn said Florence County’s been “plagued by a rash in drive-by shootings” in recent months. He said there hasn’t been one since the task force began, and hopes it’s a sign the task force is working to buck the trend.