COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - There will be a new face at the monthly Gun Violence Roundtable happening Thursday, Jan. 16 in northeast Columbia. Bridget Jackson will be attending that meeting for the first time after her son was killed in a triple homicide in Lexington County last month.
Jackson says, her son, Duwan Williams, was less than two weeks away from his 28th birthday when he was murdered. Williams was with 28-year-old Branton Booker, and 26-year-old Sheldon Livingston at the Woodland Village Apartments in Lexington County, when the three were found dead from gunshot wounds December 17.
Two men, Jeremy Cornish and Justin Hopkins, are now facing murder charges in the deaths.
Jackson says her son, a father to a three-year-old boy named Dez, was taken away too soon.
“Duwan would call me every morning. He would always send me emoji kisses telling me he loved me. I don’t have that anymore. My day is not the same since he’s been gone,” Jackson said.
The Gun Violence Roundtable is hosted by the group Building Better Communities in partnership with the Rehoboth Baptist Church in northeast Columbia. The meetings are held every third Thursday of the month.
Dr. Ivory Thigpen is a South Carolina representative representing District 79 in northeast Columbia.
He says, “When we hear those types of stories, I pray that it softens a heart and it also allows us to understand and look at it from a different situation, so maybe you will take different measures or different approaches because you put yourself in that person’s shoes.”
The two say bringing the community together to help understand one another is the first step to building closer and safer neighborhoods. That includes taking part in events like Thursday’s Gun Violence Roundtable, which is also in celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior’s birthday, and to discuss part of Dr. King’s dream of a community in which everyone can feel safe.
“My baby’s life was taken for no reason and I think they need to do something about any and everybody being able to get a gun,” Jackson said.
Representative Thigpen says he is not anti-Gun rights and that, “You have a right, a second Amendment right to own guns, but with that also comes a grave responsibility, because if you have the power of life or death in your hands, then with that also comes some safety measures, some precautions and some education.”
The church pastor says there are more ways to provide safety other than being armed. He says one way is for the community to come together, adding that getting to know and understand your neighbors can help to reduce the need for violent reactions.
Thursday’s Gun Violence Roundtable starts at 7:00 PM at the Rehoboth Baptist Church on Hardscrabble Road.