Police chief: Five people shot in downtown Charleston, two victims in critical condition
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Charleston Police Chief Luther Reynolds says five people have been shot in the downtown area and two of the victims are in critical condition.
CPD officials said it happened in the area of Hanover Street and Johnson Street. Reynolds said authorities believe that the shooting started inside a building that continued outside. Authorities do not have any suspect information at this time.
“I will tell you, and I speak I think for much of our community, that communities are tired of this,” Reynolds said during a press conference Wednesday evening. “They’re angry, they’re upset, and they’re tired of this.”
Officers responded to the scene at 4:50 p.m. When responding officers arrived they saw a vehicle speeding away and thought they were involved. According to Reynolds, the vehicle had a person who was shot, so officers followed them to the hospital and assisted the victim until they got to the emergency room.
Officials with the Medical University of South Carolina reported that one of the victims from the shooting walked into their facility at Rutledge Tower, and another victim was taken to the main hospital. Reynolds said he knows that at least one of the victims was in surgery Wednesday night.
Police are currently on the scene canvassing the area. Anyone with information about this incident is urged to call (843) 743-7200 for the on duty CPD Central detective.
“We have a violent crime problem in our nation. We have a violent crime problem in our state. We have a violent crime problem in the Lowcountry region,” Reynolds said.
The police chief learned about today’s shooting as he was leaving a meeting with local and state leaders about violence in the state.
“Five people shot, two critically. So what does that mean to me? That means more grieving mothers,” the police chief said. “And if you’ve been out on any of these crime scenes you’ve heard the sound of a wailing mother’s voice, and I promise you if you’ve heard it you’ll never get it out of your mind.”
According to the police chief, last year saw the highest number of homicides, shootings, and violence in South Carolina, and 2021 is on record to be “much worse.” Reynolds said the victims of these violent crimes were getting “younger and younger” and involved gangs, guns, drugs, and retaliation.
According to Reynolds, those that are committing the crimes are a small number of repeat violent criminal offenders.
“And we arrest them, and they’re not staying in jail. They’re getting out almost every single time,” Reynolds said. “And I’m tired because what happens when they get out, they continue the crime and the victimization and the violence. Somebody needs to step up and keep these people in jail. And we need to do that as a region, and our judges need to be a part of this conversation, and everybody needs to be a part of this to reduce this violence and save lives.”
The police chief said it was a “100% guarantee” that the person responsible for today’s shooting is a repeat offender.
“Is life so cheap in Charleston that people just pull out a gun over almost nothing to kill one another?” said Mayor John Tecklenburg who also attended today’s press conference. “Come on citizens, come on families, let’s drill down on this issue with our children with our families, friends and talk about this issue of guns and the use of them in our streets…it’s just not acceptable.”
“These violent offenders, these trigger pullers, these hardened criminals have no concern about anybody else but themselves,” the chief said. “Their drug trade, their gangs in a variety of other self serving things. They don’t care about our communities, they don’t care about our youth. They don’t care about the families that are impacted in the neighborhoods that are impacted by their actions.”
You can watch the the chief’s full press conference below.
Community activist Edward Jones said he grew up in community where the shooting happened, and said he is frustrated with the lack of support from elected officials.
“I am sick and tired. I’ve got little kids running around here playing, riding their bicycle,” Jones said. “They have play areas all over public housing for the kids going to play. The majority of kids are not scared to come outside and play because of gun violence. All they hear is gun firing all the time.”
He said while city councilman Robert Mitchell and the mayor were at the scene, he believes all representatives should come to the area and speak to the community directly. Otherwise, he believes these incidents will continue to happen.
Tony Lewis, the founder of Motivate to Educate, believes elected officials need to come together and help the communities that need it. He also said change won’t happen until legislators pass stronger laws to prevent some of the repeat offenders from back to the streets.
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