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Augusta, GA

Augusta is spared from becoming the site of another mass shooting

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Augusta is spared from becoming the site of another mass shooting


AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) – Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree said Saturday morning’s shooting in downtown Augusta could have easily become a mass shooting.

Luckily, it wasn’t, something he credits to quick action from some nearby deputies.

Gunfire erupted around 1:15 a.m. at 10th and Broad streets when two gunmen fired at each other on a crowded sidewalk, Roundtree said at a Saturday afternoon news conference.

DOWNTOWN SHOOTING: TEAM COVERAGE

At one point, at least one of the gunmen opened fire on the crowd, Roundtree said.

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Two people were injured, plus the gunman, who was shot by nearby deputies.

It could have easily been a mass shooting, Roundtree said at a news conference Saturday afternoon.

He’s thankful it wasn’t.

Mass shootings are on the rise in the U.S., and Augusta hasn’t been spared from the trend.

A mass shooting in May 2023 killed two people and injured others at an Augusta motorcycle club on East Boundary. Investigators found 150 shell casings at that scene after what authorities say was a dispute between motorcycle groups.

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Local authorities have trained for mass shooting incidents. Just Wednesday, they held a symposium on how to deal with emergencies and mass casualty incidents like what Saturday’s shooting could have become.

CNN reported that last year, the country saw 655 mass shootings, according to the Gun Violence Archive, and 2021 saw an even higher number: 689.

Between 2019 and 2020, the overall gun homicide rate rose about 35%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CNN reported that the archive shows mass shootings especially increased after May 2020, following the trend of an overall rise in gun violence during the pandemic.

MASS SHOOTINGS SO FAR THIS YEAR IN THE U.S.:

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In the CSRA, that problem has lingered, with more than 150 lives lost in an outbreak of deadly violence in a little over two years.

The outbreak has affected communities large and small on both sides of the Savannah River, but as the largest city in the region, Augusta has been hit especially hard.

Authorities have blamed much of the problem on gangs.

Roundtree called the May 2023 mass shooting incident “a lesson learned.”

“To bring this type of violence to our city, to add us to a national mass shooting list, is unconscionable. This is something we will not tolerate here in Richmond County,” Roundtree said after that shooting.

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Team coverage by News 12 staff members including Audrey Dickherber, Hallie Turner, Jada Walker, Sydney Hood, Will Rioux, Nick Proto, Zayna Haliburton, Ashley Campbell, Estelle Parsley, Aaron Wilson, Mikel Hannah-Harding, Gary Pikula, Steve Byerly and Lois White.



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Augusta, GA

MILITARY MATTERS: Psychologists and veterans in Augusta helping others with PTSD

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MILITARY MATTERS: Psychologists and veterans in Augusta helping others with PTSD


AUGUSTA, Ga. (WTVM) – June is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month, and health experts in Georgia are working to break the stigma around seeking help for the invisible wounds.

Doctors at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Augusta are no stranger to PTSD. They say it’s treatable but requires focused treatment.

“We have resources across the spectrum of care from self-directed, maybe an app that might help someone deal with stress all the way to intensive weekly appointments for outpatient therapy,” said VA Augusta clinical psychologist J. Richard Monroe.

Will Martin, an Army veteran forced to not let emotions get in the way, says PTSD affecting his personal life was a sign to take action.

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“It kind of spilled over to my relationships are negatively impacting that I wasn’t very good at communicating what I needed, or, you know, what I was really feeling,” said Army vet Will Martin.

The program helped him tap into his trauma and start to recover.

“It doesn’t eliminate it,” Martin said. “But what it does is it gives you the wisdom and knowledge and tools and figure out how to navigate it and not let it negatively impact your life.”

That is why Martin wants to break the stigma.

He said, “I grew up in a very blue-collar environment and military environment where if you went to go see a shrink, quote, unquote, that was a sign of weakness and a waste of time and money. And I experienced the exact opposite of that.”

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According to the National Center for PTSD, the disorder is more common in veterans than civilians.



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Augusta, GA

Augusta resident’s frustrations grow as grass complaints continue

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Augusta resident’s frustrations grow as grass complaints continue


AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) – Summer is near and one of the top complaints from Richmond County residents is maintaining county-owned grass.

Commissioners met on June 12 in a special work session meeting to assess the problem.

Commissioner Jordan Johnson says the lack of fiscal resources and manpower is the source of the issue.

In the special meeting, commissioners say their goal is to maintain county-owned and vacant lots on a more regular basis. Right now, they maintain the lots two to three times a year.

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Brian Jackson, who lives on Windsor Spring Road, says for years he’s had to call in for the grass to be cut on the property beside his house.

This year, he said the county has not come out once.

“For the last three years, I’ve been going back and forth trying to keep this field here cut. You know, I get all kinds of stories for a while, they’ll come out and do it maybe twice, three times a year. And that’s about it. But this year, no one’s responding. No one’s coming back, call me back. Or no one’s ever came out and looked at the field and tried to cut it anything,” said Jackson.

Merriwether Fire Department hosts camp

Jackson said the grass and weeds have gotten to the point where a normal push mower can’t clean the area. Some of the weeds exceed his height.

He also says one of his neighbors has to come out and cut the grass beside their home just to keep it in check.

“If it was anybody else’s property that’s overgrown like this, the city would go out, cut it in them, write them a ticket, and make them pay for it. You know, but since it’s their property, who’s gonna write them a ticket?” said Jackson.

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Commissioners said in the meeting they will further look into the issue and where to allocate more resources when they reassess the current budget in the next couple of weeks.



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Augusta, GA

Juneteenth holiday celebrated in many places and in many ways

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Juneteenth holiday celebrated in many places and in many ways


AUGUSTA, Ga. – For more than a century and a half, the Juneteenth holiday has been sacred to many Black communities.

The holiday is Wednesday, but celebrations began over the weekend across the CSRA.

Juneteenth marks the day in 1865 enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, found out they had been freed — after the end of the Civil War, and two years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

Since it was designated a federal holiday in 2021, Juneteenth has become more universally recognized beyond Black America. Many people get the day off work or school, and there are a plethora of street festivals, fairs, concerts and other events.

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COMING UP:

  • On Wednesday, Augusta is holding its eighth annual Juneteenth Festival. Band of Brothers Augusta is hosting the event from 12:30-9:30 p.m. in the James Brown Arena Seventh Street parking lot.
  • In Aiken County on Wednesday, Umoja Village will celebrate from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Eudora Farms Wildlife Safari Park in Salley. Activities for the entire family are planned by Umoja Village to also include remarks by Salley Mayor LaDonna Hall, African-style drummers and dancers, educational and history presentations, line dancing and more.

People who never gave the holiday on June 19 more than a passing thought may be asking themselves, is there a “right” way to celebrate Juneteenth?

For beginners and those brushing up history, here are some answers:

Is Juneteenth a solemn day of remembrance or more of a party?

It just depends on what you want. Juneteenth festivities are rooted in cookouts and barbecues. In the beginnings of the holiday celebrated as Black Americans’ true Independence Day, the outdoors allowed for large, reunions among formerly enslaved family, many of whom had been separated. The gatherings were especially revolutionary because they were free of restrictive measures, known as “Black Codes,” enforced in Confederate states, controlling whether liberated slaves could vote, buy property, gather for worship and other aspects of daily life.

Alan Freeman, 60, grew up celebrating Juneteenth every year in Houston, 50 miles north of Galveston. He has vivid memories of smoke permeating his entire neighborhood because so many people were using their barbecue pits for celebratory cookouts. You could go to anyone’s house and be welcomed to join in the feast, which could include grilled chicken and beef and other regional cuisines — jerk meats, fried fish, Jamaican plantains.

“It’s where I began to really see Black unity because I realized that that was the one day that African Americans considered ours,” Freeman said. “The one holiday that was ours. We didn’t have to share with anybody. And it was about freedom because what we understood is that we were emancipated from slavery. But, there was so many beautiful activities.”

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Others may choose to treat Juneteenth as a day of rest and remembrance. That can mean doing community service, attending an education panel or taking time off.

The important thing is to make people feel they have options on how to observe the occasion, said Dr. David Anderson, a Black pastor and CEO of Gracism Global, a consulting firm helping leaders navigate conversations bridging divides across race and culture.

“Just like the Martin Luther King holiday, we say it’s a day of service and a lot of people will do things. There are a lot of other people who are just ‘I appreciate Dr. King, I’ll watch what’s on the television, and I’m gonna rest,’” Anderson said. “I don’t want to make people feel guilty about that. What I want to do is give everyday people a choice.”

What if you’ve never celebrated Juneteenth?

Anderson, 57, of Columbia, Maryland, never did anything on Juneteenth in his youth. He didn’t learn about it until his 30s.

“I think many folks haven’t known about it — who are even my color as an African American male. Even if you heard about it and knew about it, you didn’t celebrate it,” Anderson said. “It was like just a part of history. It wasn’t a celebration of history.”

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For many African Americans, the farther away from Texas that they grew up increased the likelihood they didn’t have big Juneteenth celebrations regularly. In the South, the day can vary based on when word of Emancipation reached each state.

Anderson has no special event planned other than giving his employees Friday and Monday off. If anything, Anderson is thinking about the fact it’s Father’s Day this weekend.

“If I can unite Father’s Day and Juneteenth to be with my family and honor them, that would be wonderful,” he said.

What are other names used to refer to Juneteenth?

Over the decades, Juneteenth has also been called Freedom Day, Emancipation Day, Black Fourth of July and second Independence Day among others.

“Because 1776, Fourth of July, where we’re celebrating freedom and liberty and all of that, that did not include my descendants,” Brown said. “Black people in America were still enslaved. So that that holiday always comes with a bittersweet tinge to it.”

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