Midlands sheriff is seeing gang activity 'we have not seen before'

Published: Feb. 10, 2017 at 3:41 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 10, 2017 at 4:51 AM EST
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KERSHAW COUNTY, SC (WIS) - Just weeks ago, Kershaw County sheriff's deputies initiated a high-speed chase on I-20 through Kershaw County.

"One of our traffic officers on I-20, you know, saw a car coming down running 105 miles an hour. He got in behind it. It was reported stolen out of Richland County," said Sheriff Jim Matthews.

Matthews said at least one gang member was inside.

"They pulled over into the median there at Spears Creek Church Road and five guys bailed out of this little compact SUV," he said.

For the Kershaw County Sheriff's Office, it's a problem the sheriff and his deputies are still assessing. Matthews has noticed a spike in gang activity in Kershaw County in the past 12 months.

"I don't want to be accused of being 'Chicken Little' – 'The sky is falling! The sky is falling!' – but we are seeing gang activity in Kershaw County that we have not seen before," Matthews said. "People that we're dealing with now that we're locking up are from Richland County documented Folk Nation and Blood gang members, and they're coming into our county, and we are catching some of them."

He said it's a problem creating a nightly impact in the county's neighborhoods as well.

"They're breaking into cars, they're stealing guns, they're stealing valuables, they're stealing cash, you name it – whatever people leave in their car, they're stealing," the sheriff said.

Additionally, he says it's a problem that recently popped up at a county school.

"Three guys had gone to Camden High School after class was out and kids were out waiting for rides home," he said. "They drove through the parking lot flashing gang signs and one of the guys had a stolen .9mm pistol."

It's a problem Sheriff Matthews hopes to put a stop to before someone gets hurt.

"If you look at the news out of Richland County, there is shootings after shootings after shootings, and I would suspect that a lot of them are gang-related.  We are sticking our heads in the sand if we don't think that can happen here," Sheriff Matthews said.

The sheriff said members of the public can also help by:

  • locking their cars at night
  • removing valuables from those cars
  • by installing game cameras or security systems
  • by putting outgoing mail in the mailbox as close to pick-up as possible
  • by being alert to suspicious vehicles and calling 911 if they see one

Sheriff Matthews told WIS he hopes county council will give him the money to hire additional deputies.

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