Summerton mayor remembers his cousin, who was killed in graduation party mass shooting
CLARENDON COUNTY, S.C. (WIS) - The St. Paul community in Clarendon County is mourning after a mass shooting at a graduation party left one dead and seven others injured.
The incident happened shortly after 11 P.M. Saturday night at a home on St. Paul Road along Highway 15 South, which is about three miles from downtown Summerton.
Investigators with the Clarendon County Sheriff’s Office said two cars pulled up to the home, began firing shots and then drove away.
Deputies are still looking for suspects and motives, but Clarendon County Sheriff Tim Baxley said this appears to be gang-related. He said that these acts of violence must stop, and that innocent children and adults are suffering the consequences.
32-year-old Audrionna Kind, who was affectionately called Tutu, was shot and killed at the graduation party.
According to a family spokesperson, Kind threw the party for one of her family members who was graduating from Scott’s Branch High School.
Tony Junious, Summerton’s mayor and one of Kind’s cousins, said he’s heartbroken that Kind’s five children will now be left to grow up without their mother following this incident, an incident he said could have been avoided.
“I just don’t see how people would have the heart to really take an action to do something such as this when children and innocent lives are involved,” he said.
Seven others were injured in the shooting. The Sheriff’s Office said six of those injured were minors, ranging from 12 to 17 years old. One 36-year-old was also injured.
Junious said his family, and the entire community, are shaken up about the incident and the loss of Kind.
“Tutu was a loving, kind person,” he said. “Anything she could have done for you she would reach and go beyond to do whatever she had to do to help you out in a whole lot of ways. One good thing that we loved about Tutu, if Tutu had something she had to say to you personally, however she put it, she’s going to say what she had to say and was done with it, but at the end of the day, she would always come back around and show you that kind love that she always has.”
Deputies are working to determine whether shots were fired at specific people, or just randomly into the crowd of more than 150. When they arrived, deputies recovered more than 60 shell casings.
Junious said this incident took the entire community by surprise. He said the town of Summerton had recently held a revival to promote prayer and peace in the community.
Following this shooting, Junious said he’s heard from several citizens who are reluctant to have any type of community event. Some, he said, have taken steps to cancel plans for graduation parties.
Though St. Paul is outside Clarendon’s town limits, Junious said he will continue to work with faith leaders and the town manager with the goal of making the town and its surrounding community safer.
Junious said he has confidence that this tight-knit community will bounce back.
“As I’m talking, I’m holding back the tears and emotion because Tutu was a close connected family member to us, a cousin that everybody loved, everybody could relate to and communicate to. So, this is heartbreaking, but at the end of the day, at some point God will give us the strength to heal, to come together as a whole and bring this community even closer than it ever was before.”
A GoFundMe has been created by Kind’s cousin, Alonso Felder, to pay for her funeral expenses and provide for her children.
The Clarendon County Sheriff’s Office is urging anyone with information about this case to contact its office directly at 803-435-4414.
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