SC has fifth-most mass shootings in the nation this year, Gun Violence Archive data show

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Published: Jun. 9, 2022 at 10:41 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 10, 2022 at 11:14 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - So far this year, only four states have had more mass shootings than South Carolina, despite the state only being the 23rd-largest in population.

That’s according to the data from the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit organization that tracks shootings nationwide.

There have been 12 mass shootings statewide so far in 2022, and five have happened since May 1.

Only Texas, California, Louisiana and Illinois had more mass shootings through the first week in June, according to Gun Violence Archive data.

The Gun Violence Archive defines a mass shooting as one where more than four people, not including the shooter, were shot or killed.

In total, more than 60 people have suffered gunshot wounds as a result of mass shooting in South Carolina, and seven people have been shot and killed.

Community leaders say these numbers are motivating them to find solutions.

“It’s hurt,” Perry Bradley, CEO of the nonprofit Building Better Communities, said. “You work so hard at something like we’ve been doing for decades and you see these high numbers and it feels like sometimes like why don’t I just give up? But you don’t.”

Three of the shootings happened in the Midlands, and two happened in Columbia. These three took place at an apartment building, a crowded mall and a graduation party over more than 150 people.

The most recent shooting was this weekend in Clarendon County. 32-year-old Audrionna Kind, a mother of five, and seven others were injured when deputies said at least 60 rounds were fired at a graduation party Kind hosted at her home.

The Columbia Police Department responded to the two mass shootings in Richland County.

The first one happened in March, when 20-year-old Jamacia Dowling was shot and killed, and four others were injured at the Greene Crossing Apartments.

Columbia Police announced a third arrest in connection with that shooting on Thursday.

The second one happened just over a month later when nine people suffered gunshot wounds at Columbiana Centre Mall on Easter weekend.

Columbia Police believe that the Greene Crossing shooting stemmed from an argument, and the Columbiana Centre mall shooting stemmed from an ongoing and isolated conflict between the suspects.

Bradley said his organization’s ambassador program is determined to bring ambassadors into these communities and find ways to resolve conflict before it escalates to something like this.

“Bringing the resources that we need to the community, being able to reach the children and show them that there’s a better way, show them that there’s a different way,” he said. “One of the biggest things we do with our ambassador program is we try to show them conflict resolution, we try to give them alternatives to violence, all those types of things that you have are prime examples of where if they’re not given the right resources, the right knowledge, where things can lead.”

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said recently that Richland County is “losing a generation” to gun violence. He called for some legislative changes, including reevaluating bond for repeat offenders and graduated gun possession sentences.

Four of these mass shootings happened in the Charleston area.

Building Better Communities, as part of a new expansion, now has at least seven mentors in the Lowcountry working with youth to help them realize their full potential.

“We want to do something new,” Bradley said. “Even though we’re starting out small with maybe five or six people in this area, five or six people in that area, once we get it all together and grow I think it will be amazing what we can do. And hopefully we can turn South Carolina as a whole around.”

The Community Ambassador Program currently has about 140 ambassadors, the majority of which are in Richland County.

Bradley said this expansion beyond the county, and beyond the Midlands, has come about within the last several months. He said people from around the state have reached out to him, looking for ways to help. This, Bradley said, gives him hope for the future.

Building Better Communities will be hosting its gun violence prevention summit from July 28 through 31 at Lenoir-Rhyne University’s Columbia campus. Participants will have the opportunity to meet with community leaders, politicians and law enforcement about gun violence and possible solutions.

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