AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) – As the community mourns the latest two young men shot dead in Augusta, deputies are making progress on arresting suspects.
But a surge in deadly violence isn’t over yet.
Authorities responded Tuesday morning to a report of another fatal shooting – this time in the 3100 block of Wrightsboro Road. That’s at Damascus Road near the Daniel Field airport.
Meanwhile, Keyon Smiley, 31, has been arrested in the weekend shooting of Logan Etterle, 21, at 10th and Broad streets.
There’s also an arrest warrant out for another suspect, D’Andre Tandy, who is not yet in custody, according to deputies.
The arrest warrant for Smiley says he and another suspect were in a physical altercation with Etterle at about 1:55 a.m. Sunday when the other suspect shot Etterle in the upper torso.
READ THE ARREST WARRANT:
Etterle was pronounced dead at the scene.
An incident report from the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office says Smiley was somehow shot in the right ankle during the altercation and was transported to a hospital for treatment.
Etterle’s slaying would be one of two on Sunday morning in Augusta.
The other, at 11th Avenue and Grand Boulevard, claimed the life of Jakwan Gunter, 19, who was pronounced dead just after 4 a.m. Deputies told News 12 they believe the shooting was gang-related and that they have identified people of interest in the case.
Etterle and Gunter are being remembered with makeshift impromptu memorials near where they were killed.
Etterle’s memorial featured a photo of him, a small bouquet and a board with signed messages, while Gunter’s memorial outside the Carrie J. Mays Family Life Center included blue and white flowers.
Etterle had also been injured in an October 2020 shooting after coming to the defense of a teenager he felt was being mistreated by her boyfriend. Friends at the time said it was very much like him to come to the defense of people he loves.
Family members tell us “Kwan” Gunter was a good person and great kid who just graduated from Laney High School. His cousin says all he wanted to do was to live life and make his family proud.
It’s not clear whether the shootings of Etterle and Gunter are related, but coming on the heels of a string of other deadly shootings here as well as mass slayings across the country, some people are understandably on edge.
People like the shoppers at Augusta Mall who ran for their lives on Sunday when someone displayed a gun during a verbal dispute near the food court. Although no shots were fired and no one was hurt, it gave many people a glimpse of what could have happened.
The local surge in violence seemed to start emerging in April, when it was mostly centered in Richmond County. Then we started to see more homicides across the Savannah River in Aiken County as well as in smaller places in Georgia like Washington County.
TACKLING LOCAL CRIME:
Days into the initial outbreak, Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree said he was taking “decisive action” to turn back the trend.
Blaming at least part of the problem on gangs, he said: “We have plans for selected enforcement action to target those criminals who are participating in gangs and the associated gun violence and drug trafficking.”
He said this would include “proactive teams conducting operations” in areas recently affected by gang activity and other known high-crime areas, he said.
Deputies also said they’d conduct road checks in targeted areas.
“This activity will continue until these gang members and their associates realize that the Sheriff’s Office will not rest until they stop or are put in jail,” Roundtree said.
Roundtree’s agency also rolled out plans to install at least 25 high-tech cameras in crime-prone areas to help fight the problem.
“We can actually, with gang members, if we have the tag numbers on their cars and their ID data, we can put pictures up. There are all kinds of different things we can do,” Chief Deputy Patrick Clayton told News 12 in May.
Yet we’re still seeing shooting after shooting.
A criminologist at Augusta University told News 12 a few weeks ago that spikes in crime come in waves, but what makes this wave stand out is the level of violence.
“What we’ve been seeing here, particularly in the last couple of months, is this rise in gun violence, shootings, even around the CSRA, not just Richmond County,” “Candace Griffith said.
“Is there an increase in gang violence because violence begets violence? It might perpetuate until finally, something interferes,” said Griffith.
Although Roundtree cites gangs as a source of the crime, targeted gang violence wouldn’t explain all the local victims.
In just a little over a month, three local women were killed by the men they loved, who then also died.
And some of the victims might have simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time – people like an Aiken man shot dead while driving down the street.
Aside from the three fatal shootings so far this week, homicides since April 14 in the CSRA include:
- On June 3 in the 100 block of Pelzer Street in Warrenville, 34-year-old Lacey Toole was shot dead by her boyfriend John Williams, who then turned the gun on himself.
- On June 2 on Summerhill Avenue, 37-year-old Yoni Vargas shot his wife, 33-year-old Rosa Salguero-Landaverde, then killed himself.
- On May 29, a shooting killed two people – 17-year-old William Mykell Lowery and 30-year-old Christopher “Scooter” Dunn – at a “Freaknik”-themed party being held at a ball[park outside Sandersville, Ga. The shooting is believed to be the result of an altercation.
- Patricia Dent, 65, was strangled to death by her boyfriend Joseph McKinnon, who then buried her body in their yard at 102 Tanglewood Drive in Trenton, authorities say. They learned of her death on May 7 after finding McKinnon dead of a heart attack he suffered while burying Dent.
- A shooting just before 7:30 p.m. on April 23 claimed the life of Rodriquez Dunn, 31, at the Olmstead Homes in the 2100 block of B Street in Augusta. Dunn suffered at least one gunshot wound and died at the scene.
- On April 19, Brittany Dougherty was found slain outside a vacant home in the 1500 block of Conklin Lane. Her death was considered suspicious from the start, but within hours the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office ruled her death a homicide.
- On April 18, Johnnie Coleman was found shot dead in the 1900 block of Old Savannah Road. Authorities released a photo of a car suspected to have been linked to that slaying. Kelvin Lewis, 33, has been arrested as a suspect in the murders of Coleman and Dougherty.
- Jenefer Holt Herron, 52, of Augusta, died late April 18 after being shot during an argument outside the Circle K at 1739 Walton Way in Augusta. Suspect Yelena Buckner, 33, of Augusta, was later found and arrested on charges of murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, deputies reported.
- JaJuan Russell, 21, of Augusta, was fatally shot early April 17 in the 3700 block of Oslo Road in Augusta. Russell was taken to Augusta University Medical Center.
- Sandersville police found the body of a man on April 16 inside a home on Gwendolyn Street while responding to a report of a domestic dispute at the address. Santavious Louis Roberts, 35, of Sandersville, was arrested.
- Brandon Peebles, 24, of Girard, was shot around 10:45 p.m. on April 14 in the 2300 block of Prague Court. He was pronounced dead at 11:23 p.m.
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