SUMTER COUNTY, S.C. — Sumter County is seeing an increase in drive-by shootings according to the sheriff's department.
"Stray bullets don’t care. We can’t have injuries or deaths related from this kind…this is not how a community acts," Major Randall Stewart with the department told News 19. "[There are] individuals on the streets with a gun in one hand and drugs in the other. They’re making poor decisions and that puts innocent citizens at risk and we can’t have that kind of behavior."
In the past 30 days, Stewart says there have been nine shootings.
I went to the Wedgefield community and spoke with neighbors about the uptick in crime. There have been two shootings in the community in the past 30 days, they said.
Neighbors tell me that this is not typical for the area and in fact, they say this street is normally pretty quiet.
"These drive-by shootings, they’re often a gang-affiliated connection, there’s drugs involved, and they’re juveniles and adolescents and our concern is the well-being of our youth," Stewart explained.
The sheriff's office announced on Thursday that a suspect is in custody and is believed to have been connected to the shootings. This came after tips from the community, which helped identify a vehicle of interest.
When the vehicle was stopped for a traffic violation, officers took three suspects into custody. Stewart says having the public’s help in reporting suspicious gunfire is crucial.
"This is September, so we are at the beginning of the hunting season. So if you’re out in the county, you’re going to hear gunfire at some point. It’s just whether you believe there’s danger," Stewart said. "We’d rather respond and verify that there’s nothing wrong than get a call too late."