SLED: Murders in S.C. reach five-year high

SLED: Murders in S.C. reach five-year high
A report shows the number of murders in South Carolina reached a five-year high in 2018.

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) – The number of murders in South Carolina reached a five-year high in 2018, according to a new report from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.

According to the 2018 Uniform Crime Report, 393 people were murdered in the state last year. That’s compared to 375 for 2017.

The report states the murder rate for every 10,000 residents in S.C. increased 3.5% from 2017 to 2018. The state murder rate, however, decreased by 32.7% since 1991.

According to the report, the top five counties with the highest number of murders in 2018 are:

  • Charleston County: 46
  • Richland County: 43
  • Horry County: 29
  • Florence County: 26
  • Spartanburg County: 24

The number of murders in Horry County went up from 27 in 2017 to 29 in 2018.

15th Circuit Solicitor Jimmy Richardson attributes that to the increase in population.

“Any time you have a relatively small population that grows, it’s going to bring growing pains with it," Richardson said. “If you had a town the size of, we’ll just say Aynor with 600 people in it, if that area for whatever reason grew to the size of Las Vegas, we’d be fools not to believe that there would be more murders after the growing of that size than there would’ve before.”

While they may seem like just numbers, for family members of people who have died by murder, it means much more.

“To lose a child is devastation," Elizabeth Bowens said.

Bowens is the president of South Carolina Mothers Against Violence. She lost her son to gun violence in 2005 when he was a bouncer at a club.

Her message to anyone who may be headed down a violent path is to think about how decisions affect people.

“You had an option of going somewhere else," she said. "Not going that direction. Because I know they think. I know they have a mind to think before they take an action.”

SLED also noted the number of law enforcement officers assaulted increased 16% last year. The 2018 report is dedicated to the five law enforcement officers who lost their lives across the state. Two of them were Florence County officers Terrance Carraway and Farrah Turner, who died from injuries they sustained in the Oct. 3, 2018 Vintage Place shooting that also injured five other officers.

While the murder rate is up, the rates for overall violent crimes and property crimes in S.C. fell in 2018.

The report showed the rate of violent crimes decreased 2% last year, while the rate of property crimes fell 4% when compared to 2017. It is the fifth consecutive year that the number of property crimes declined.

“I am pleased to see a steady decline in the number of property crimes and that the overall violent crime rate dropped,” said SLED Chief Mark Keel. “While these statistics are encouraging, I am deeply troubled by the increasing number of murders, domestic violence incidents and the number of law enforcement officers assaulted in our state.”

Click here to view the complete report.

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