The two loved each other fiercely: they had frequent “cuddle time” sessions and dedicated Friday girls’ nights. The teen would often join her mom for errands, riding in the passenger seat and snapping photos for her social media accounts, which she always kept up to date.
“It’s every parent’s worst nightmare,” Graham-Fleming told CNN. “Not only has it been devastating for me, but I have two other children who have been affected by this. So our whole family has been dismantled.”
While national leaders sound the alarm over a recent surge in violent crime
across major US cities that shows no signs of letting up,
local authorities in Richland County say they’re fighting their own gun violence spike.
After Sanaa’s killing, Lott announced the arrest of two 17-year-olds in the May 27 shooting death of 18-year-old John Kelly.
Days later, 19-year-old David Green was shot and killed at a party, and an 18-year-old was arrested and charged with murder. Earlier this month, Columbia police said they were investigating the fatal shooting of 19-year-old Trinity Sanders.
Richland, the state’s second most populous county and
home to the capital city of Columbia, recorded a violent crime rate of more than 530 per 100,000 residents in 2019, according to FBI data
. That was more than 60% higher than Greenville, South Carolina’s most populous county, and nearly 45% higher than the national average that year.
It’s now facing a gun violence “crisis,” the sheriff says, and many of the victims are teenagers. The county has already recorded at least 19 shooting deaths so far this year, according to the sheriff’s office — one more than last year’s total and on pace to also surpass both 2018 and 2019.
Eight of this year’s fatal shooting victims were 24 or younger — double what was recorded by this time in 2020 and four times what the same period in 2019 saw.
The increased violence continues across county lines.
In 2020, South Carolina logged its highest number of murders in more than six decades, since the state began keeping records, and a 51% jump from 2015, when it recorded 378 homicides,
SC Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel said in a June news conference.
This year will likely be worse, Keel said. Gangs, drugs and criminals’ access to guns are driving the surge, he said. They’re among key things President Joe Biden vowed last month
his administration would crack down on in response to the nationwide spike in violence.
But those in Richland County aren’t waiting for outside help. Local authorities have appealed to their community for help in curbing the shootings. And residents — often themselves touched by gun violence — are organizing events to raise awareness of the problem, including the county’s first-ever gun violence prevention summit this weekend.
Pandemic shuttered teens’ outlets
Inside the small office Perry Bradley rents in one of Columbia’s highest crime areas, preparations were underway this month for the Gun Violence Prevention Summit
he’s putting together Saturday.
Columbia police, the sheriff’s office and…