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Investigators identify Newberry County teens killed in weekend shootings

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Published: May. 23, 2022 at 12:31 PM EDT
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NEWBERRY, S.C. (WIS) - The city of Newberry is mourning the loss of four teenagers to gun violence in the span of just 15 hours over the weekend.

The Newberry Police Department is searching for leads in connection to a pair of shootings that happened Sunday near downtown Newberry.

The first shooting happened shortly after midnight in the 700 block of Wise Street.

While investigating the first shooting, law enforcement responded to the 2400 block of Eleanor Street at 2:51 p.m., just a tenth of a mile away, to find three more teenagers shot and killed.

Investigators provided an update on the case Monday, and Newberry County Coroner Laura Kneece identified the four victims.

16-year-old MyKain Davis was shot and killed early Sunday morning.

Just hours later, Jahquindon Toland, 18, Jhisere Robinson, 15, and Sonterrious Davis, 19, were shot and killed. One of the victims in the second shooting had been questioned by law enforcement following the first shooting.

Newberry Police Chief Kevin Goodman said it’s unclear if these two shootings are connected, but confirmed that all four of these individuals traveled in the same social circles and knew each other.

“They were friends,” Goodman said.

No suspects or persons of interest have been identified, and police are still working to determine motives.

When asked whether the incidents were gang-related, Goodman said, “We don’t know that at this point.”

Goodman said that there have been shootings in this neighborhood previously, but nothing of this magnitude.

One neighbor, who requested anonymity due to safety concerns, said he has lived in the area his entire life, and has never seen gun violence like this.

“You never know when the gunshots are going to come through,” he said. “Because it just comes out of nowhere, you never know what happens.”

He said he speaks to the young people in this neighborhood in passing, but he is fearful that many of them own guns.

“They give me respect because they know me in the neighborhood,” he said. “But you still cannot trust them as long as they got them guns around here. A gun ain’t nothing to play with. It don’t know nobody, you know, it’s just dangerous. Now I’m tickled about just walking up and down the road to the store, I have to look behind me all the time.”

When asked about the potential for retaliation, Goodman said that it is hard to answer that question.

“The way it’s leaning hopefully not, but we don’t know that right now,” he said.

Goodman grew up in this community. He started mentoring and coaching young people in Newberry when he was a sophomore at Newberry College.

“I am in disbelief and I hurt to the core,” he said.

Of the recent spike in violence, Goodman said, “We are losing our young people at an alarming rate.”

He got emotional when speaking about the pain that these events have brought to Newberry’s youth.

“To the young people of Newberry, understand this, we love you and I love you,” he said. “And I want nothing but the best for you. I’m here for you, and we have to do better.”

Newberry Mayor Foster Senn said that multiple law enforcement agencies, elected officials and school administrators met to discuss the shootings and ways to better reach young people.

“We are greatly saddened and extend our sympathies to the families,” Senn said.

Administrators at Newberry High School announced Sunday evening a move to E-learning for Monday. They said it was a move out of an abundance of caution and that no direct threat was presented.

The School District of Newberry County announced Monday evening that Newberry High School will resume its normal schedule on Tuesday. The district said that additional personnel, including an increased law enforcement presence, would be on site to assist students and staff.

In a statement, Superintendent Alvin Pressley said, “I want to express my personal condolences to the families of the victims during this very difficult time.  The Newberry community has been deeply impacted by this weekend’s events, which has led to the loss of four young lives.  No parent, friend, teacher is ever prepared to face a tragedy like this.  I want to thank the local law enforcement agencies for their work and support and we will continue to work with them to make certain our schools are safe and secure.  We have made the decision to have students return to Newberry High School tomorrow to provide them with the support from their school and district family.”

Earlier Monday, the school district released a statement saying in part that the community was mourning the tragic loss of two current and two former students from these shootings.

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