(WSPA) – 7NEWS went looking for Anderson County hot spots, the places deputies said would most likely be the scene of violent crimes.
The Anderson County Sheriff’s Office suggested Deputy Steven Mileskie as a guide.
“This is Q Street. Q Street and R Street are two of the most problem streets as far as any kind of shooting or retaliation,” Mileskie said as he guided his patrol cruiser along block after block of county roads.
Anderson County was identified by a previous 7NEWS Report “Where the Violence Lives” as the most violent county in the Upstate.
Using four years of data, provided by each agency, 7NEWS compared calls for the most serious violence, including murder, to find a widespread pattern of calls in Anderson County.
At the time, in 2017, Chad McBride was newly sworn as sheriff after winning election the previous year. The data was accumulated during a previous administration. 7NEWS asked McBride, in 2017, if he agreed with the findings.
“When I tell you these numbers, do they surprise you,” Gordon Dill asked. “No,” said McBride, “I think people can feel it.”
Because he was new to office, 7NEWS promised McBride there would be a follow-up story to look for changes in the data. Now, after a reminder from the sheriff’s office, new trends have emerged.
“I think, you know, where we have been able to trend, property crime is down, burglaries, arsons, stuff like that I think people have felt there’s fewer of that,” McBride said. “But, obviously, the increase in violent crimes the last couple of years concerns all of us.”
Deputy Mileskie was only about 30 minutes into his tour when he got a call, and hit the gas.
“We have a shooting with injuries,” he said. “There may be children in the car.”
THE PROBLEM IS MURDER
The real issue, not just in Anderson County, but across the state, is murder.
Anderson County, and the Upstate, have been struggling with more murders.
Once again, 7NEWS took four years of data covering all the calls for the most serious violent crimes. This study covered years 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022. There are also state totals for the years through 2021 that show similar trends.
Most violent crime is down, but murders are alarmingly high.
As of 2021, the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) found the statewide murder rate at a 30-year high. In 2021, there were 566 murders statewide, more that twice the number (265) during 2010.
In Anderson County, the same trends seem clear. The number of violent crimes worked by the sheriff’s office dropped roughly 4.4% from the last 4 year study to this new one. Murder held steady.
There were 46 murder calls in the first four years and exactly the same number, 46, this time. It’s roughly a murder a month for the Anderson County Sheriff’s office.
McBride credited a strategy of increasing the number of deputies on patrol for the drop in property crime countywide, a campaign promise he made in 2016. The numbers show it may take another approach to end the problem of murder.
“You could put a police officer on every corner and they’re going to try to find a way to kill their intended target,” McBride said.
“Most of these crimes are being committed by 15-year-olds, 16, 17 even up to young 20s. That’s a major problem. Who is accountable? These are kids. Who is accountable for these children?”
MENTOR AND MENTEE
Don Peppers wants to be accountable for some of those kids. His project, Proverbs Mentoring, started 18 years ago and expanded a year ago into a partnership with an online school called SC Prep. They meet in the mornings at the Westside Community Center.
“It takes constant reminding to speak to that purpose and speak to the value and worth that they have to overcome some of those barriers,” Peppers said.
Peppers said he knows the problem of youth violence well. At least one teen he tried to recruit into his program has died as a result of violent crime.
In Anderson County, just in the last year, a 15-year-old was shot on Gordon Circle in January, a 19-year-old was shot and killed at the mall in July, a teen was shot at a gas station in August and another charged in a fatal shooting in December. In fact, just this month, Anderson County deputies said a 16-year-old shot another teen on Foster street.
Isaiah Allen is a 16 year old sophomore. 7NEWS met him through Proverbs Mentoring.
“We keeping it blunt?” asked Isaiah, “I think some people think that’s the life. I think some of them don’t think they have another choice. For those that feel like they don’t have another choice, I feel they need to know that they do.”
Allen said he too has lost someone to violence. Like McBride, he said young people need help and need it now.
“They need to get up and do something. I mean, they see us out here getting shot, out here dying, out here picking up guns, out here getting sent to juvenile. Don’t they see us enough? I know there’s something they can do. There’s gotta be,” Allen said.
“I don’t know how, other than to keep doing our jobs, keep making arrests, keep putting people in jail,” McBride said. “I just think that the churches, communities, mentorship programs, they’re gonna have to do everything they possibly can to intervene on behalf of some of these kids.”
7NEWS is sharing the data for murders and serious violent crime here.
You can check out the 7NEWS Anderson County crime map below or by clicking here: