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'Something has to change': Richland County murders by gunfire doubled in 2021

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said the numbers reflect the rise in gun violence seen in the county.

RICHLAND COUNTY, S.C. — The number of murders by gunfire in Richland County doubled in 2021 from the year before but of those killings all 32 have been solved, Sheriff Leon Lott announced Thursday.

Lott, who held a year-end crime update on Thursday, said the increase in murders follows a nationwide trend. The difference, he said, is that many of those crimes across the country are going unsolved while those cases are being solved in Richland County. 

“The fact that all 32 murders were solved shows that our investigators are working closely with our community and do not give up on these victims," Lott said. 

RELATED: 'No mother should have to bury her child': Sheriff calls for end to gun violence

Lott said the numbers reflect the rise in gun violence seen in Richland County. 

In 2021, Richland County deputies responded to 113 shooting incidents in which a person was struck by gunfire and survived. That’s up from 88 in 2020

"This senseless violence is not a law enforcement problem. We can solve the cases as they come in, but that doesn’t stop the violence from happening- something has to change within the community.”

RELATED: 'This is a public health crisis': Community leaders look to address gun violence

Sheriff on Murders in Richland County

LIVE: Sheriff Leon Lott talks about the rise in murders in Richland County last year

Posted by WLTX News19 on Thursday, January 6, 2022

RELATED: 'That's cold. That's cold': Deputies say two teens sat on teen they shot, killed while driving to other location

While numerous arrests have been made in last year’s murder cases, one suspect in a December murder remains outstanding.

On December 18, 2021, deputies responded to a shooting on Oakside Lane in Columbia. 28-year-old Arturo Valdez-Miguel succumbed to the injuries he sustained. Lott said Gabriel Ramirez-Medrano, who is wanted for murder in that case, continues to evade arrest. 

RELATED: Dentsville shooting charges upgraded to murder as search continues for gunman

Anyone with information on Ramirez-Medrano’s whereabouts is asked to submit a tip to Crime Stoppers at crimesc.com or call 911.

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