COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Richland County Deputies are still searching for the person who shot and killed 50-year-old Jose Martinez on Sunday.
Since November WIS has told you about violence in the 29203 zip code, and this latest shooting at a gas station on Wilson Boulevard adds another crime to that area.
We’ve told you about how the violence affected those in Columbia city limits, but now we’re getting our first look at the growing amount of murders in the county.
Since 2016, 1 of the county’s 26 murders happened in 29203. In 2018, that number has gone to 8 of the 27 murders in the county.
The non-profit organization Midlands Fatherhood Coalition, is one of the organizations working to stop the violence and crime by mentoring fathers. They say the largest group of people they serve comes from 29203.
They say this violence and crime in 29203 is a by-product two things: poverty and broken families.
Since the late 90s, the organization has been working to mentor fathers to help them become better parents and to help guide them to re-connect with their kids, and find employment.
Santanna Hayes with the organization says if they can fix the broken families and help with employment, maybe that can start to create a ripple effect of change.
“We’ve done research to show that father absence is the number one indicator of individual living in poverty and the reason that is, is because that father often times provides that structure for that home,” Hayes said.
Hayes says they work to address issues like education, and mental health with fathers who have struggled on the streets to help them turn away from any possible criminal actions they may be involved in.
They say it is going to be hard to overcome these elements, but to break the cycle, one has to understand where it starts and move beyond that.
“You would have to kind of hide your head in the sand if you don’t address the white elephant in the room of what racism in America has really produced. 300 year of slavery. The Jim Crow era and segregation and things of that nature that really caused many African Americans to suffer. Economically, family structure, these things have caused a definite impact,” Hayes said.
Data from American census surveys show the majority of people who live in 29203 are African American.
When it comes to overcoming years of societal challenges, Hayes says his organization can’t do it alone.
“You know we’re not supermen. We are really just trying to do our part, in the community to help see things turned around so everybody plays a critical role so that each individual in that area code in the area codes surrounding that entire Richland county area has a responsibility. It’s been hundreds of years in the making and it’s going to take time to try to provide the resources and
tools to start turning this large ship around so to speak,” Hayes said.
If you’d like to learn more about the services provided by Midlands Fatherhood Coalition, you can go to Midlandsfathersmatter.com.
And if you have any information on the Wilson Boulevard shooting death, you will stay anonymous and can receive a cash reward, just call Crimestoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC.