‘It’s a trend that’s unacceptable:’ Darlington County deputies developing plans to combat violence

Pee Dee

DARLINGTON COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — Deputies in Darlington County are working to combat growing violence.

Sheriff James Hudson Junior calls a nationwide spike in violent crimes ‘unacceptable.’

Darlington County recently saw four unrelated shootings over a five day period.

“We need for the people to step up in these various communities and say ‘enough is enough,'” Sheriff Hudson said. “Because these young men are killing each other for no reason. There’s no logic behind it. And it seems like it’s a fad to pick up a gun and get angry.”

The DCSO charged a Lamar man after a four-year-old child reportedly shot themselves Sunday near Lynches River Road. That was the last in a string of four shootings within the county that began Wednesday.

Jerome Slater lives near where a shooting killed a 25-year-old just outside Hartsville Wednesday. He’s lived in the home for over 25 years.

“It used to be a great community,” Slater said. “But I think it can be better than what it is now.”

The Hartsville area is his home, so the violence upsets him.

“We need to help each other find out what the problem is,” he said. “With all the shooting and stuff with the young teenagers, it bothers me.”

It also bothers law enforcement.

“It’s a trend that’s unacceptable,” Sheriff Hudson said of the recent shootings. “And across the country it’s going on.”

Hudson said many neighboring jurisdictions are seeing the same issue. He added it’s hard to pinpoint why.

“Probably in the last year, these shootings have increased,” Major David Young said, who’s over professional standards at DCSO.

“10 years ago, someone would say, ‘drive by shooting,'” Captain over criminal investigations Neil Cusack said. “They would go, ‘Oh what!’ Now drive by shooting is ‘Oh. Really? Anyone get hurt?'”

Sheriff Hudson said before this latest string of violence, his administration has made arrests in all but one homicide case.

The sheriff and his command staff said that witnesses have generally become less cooperative, which has created some challenges when investigating violent crimes. One exception, the sheriff said, was the case out of Dovesville Saturday.

“If you see something, say something right then,” Chief Deputy Chad McInville urged. “We’ll get a shooting call and we’ll find out actually from the hospital when they show up at the hospital instead of someone actually calling. We actually have to find the crime scene.”

Sheriff Hudson says it’ll take more than just law enforcement to stop the violence, which is why he wants community leaders and groups to step up. He also wants parents to be involved in their kids’ lives. He says the DCSO has plans in the works to combat the violence.

“The ones who are not helping now, we don’t want them to complain then when we start putting these boots on the ground and we start addressing this the hard way,” he said. “Because that’s what its going to take.”

He could not provide more details about the plans because they are still in their early stages. He said the sheriff’s office is in the process of starting more community watches in the county.

News13 requested statewide violent crime data from SLED, but information from 2021 was not made available.

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