Local law enforcement holds vigil following Uvalde school shooting | News | #schoolshooting

Several dozen area residents joined local law enforcement and government officials for a vigil last Thursday evening, following the school shooting in Uvalde, TX.

The vigil, organized by Thomson Police Chief Courtney Gale and McDuffie County Sheriff Logan Marshall, was a call to action for the community, with both law enforcement leaders asking for community members to help them stem violence and gun activity here.

Following an opening prayer by First Baptist Pastor David Mamet, Gale urged people to help stem violence locally.

“We are we are here before you asking for you to please be our eyes be our ears and help us get illegal guns off of the street,” said Gale. “We could be — if you look at the demographics — the next Uvalde.”

Both Gale and Marshall were careful to assure residents that they are only after illegal firearms.

“We have good support in McDuffie County. We would like to keep it that way. We support the second amendment. We’re not trying to take legal guns off the street. We are trying to take illegal guns off the street,” said Marshall.

“I just want to emphasize, again, we’re going after guns that are illegally in the possession of somebody. I’m speaking for myself right now – I’m a gun owner, a responsible gun owner” Gale said. “So that is not the argument here. The argument is we need to get the guns out of the wrong hands.”

Local resident Stephanie Stewart spoke about the loss of a child to gun violence.

“I’ve lost one son, and he was shot to death in South Carolina. The other night, I almost lost more of my children in the middle of town,” she told those in attendance. “I’m not perfect by any means, but I do know that it’s gonna take us to stand up or we’re going to lose all of our children. And that’s the bottom line of it.”

Gale then introduced an anonymous crime tip line — (706) 597-7381 — in the hope of encouraging citizens to report issues before things get out of hand. 

“You all see stuff before the 911 call ever comes into us. So, the more people that can come forward, we need that information,” she said. “It doesn’t matter where somebody lives, it doesn’t matter what you do for a living. We want people to live in peace and without the fear of crime.”

She noted that law enforcement is finding guns in the possession of young people 14 and 15 years old and asked parents to talk to their children and invite police to pick up any illegal weapons they discover.

Following a closing prayer, Gale said she appreciated the number of people who attended and said she hopes there will be more community gatherings going forward.

Gale said local law enforcement continues training and will learn from past mass shooting incidents.

“There is some training provided in the academy. We’re planning what is called alert training. And I was talking to the sheriff’s office and the school police about it, and we’re just trying to hammer out a day,” she said. 

“If anything, we’ll learn from what’s being said,” she said about criticism of law enforcement in the Uvalde response.

Mayor Kenneth Usry is supportive of the local law enforcement efforts.

“I appreciate that the police chief and Sheriff Logan Marshall put this together because we are almost identical to the community in Texas. We have issues that I know we got. And we need to we need to take illegal weapons off the streets,” he said. “We also need to work on the gang activity that we’ve got in town. The shootings are coming from and it takes things like this for people to start talking to police to know what’s happening, so they can address it.”

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