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Augusta, GA

Downtown Augusta shooting: What we know today

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Downtown Augusta shooting: What we know today


AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) – When a man opened fire on a crowded downtown Augusta sidewalk, panic spread quickly and a total of three people were injured. Here’s what we know:

What happened?

Around 1:15 a.m. Saturday at 10th and Broad streets, two firearm-wielding males were exchanging gunfire in the middle of a crowded sidewalk, and at least one of the gunmen fired into a crowd of bystanders with what deputies call an “assault rifle.”

Two people were hurt, suffering injuries that weren’t life-threatening, Roundtree said.

Two nearby deputies heard the commotion and shot the gunman, who was also taken to a hospital with injuries.

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The second suspect has not been identified.

Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree couldn’t comment on the age of the suspects or the motive, since it’s an active investigation.

People told News 12 they heard what sounded like 100 gunshots. Roundtree said he couldn’t comment on the number of rounds, but said it was a “massive amount.”

DOWNTOWN SHOOTING: TEAM COVERAGE

Was anyone killed?

No one was killed, but three people were injured, including the gunman, who was shot by deputies.

All three suffered injuries that weren’t life-threatening and officials said they were stable Saturday afternoon.

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A young woman said her two brothers were shot. She said 18-year-old Amazing Brigham and 23-year-old Seven Whitfield were taken to a hospital. Whitfield was released from the hospital and is not a suspect. Brigham, she says, had not been released on Saturday.

Brigham’s mother told News 12 she hadn’t been able to see her son but authorities told her he was stable.

It could have been worse

Considering the number of bullets and the number of people around, it could have been worse.

Roundtree credits the quick action of the deputies, who were working special duty at a nearby business.

“I cannot stress the magnitude of the intervention of our deputies. There is no doubt that without swift and heroic efforts to neutralize a heavily armed gunman, the potential for massive loss of life was extremely great,” Roundtree said.

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He called the incident a senseless and brazen act of violence and a “total disregard for public safety in yet another act of violence on Richmond County.”

The investigation

The deputies were placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard in a situation like this.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is assisting in this investigation, which is also routine for an officer-involved shooting.

Roundtree asked that members of the public who have information or video from the incident contact the GBI or his office.

Shooting sparked chaos

Phil Ramey was at Garden City Social when the shots rang out. People started running.

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“A little bit of screaming. Everybody’s rushing to the front. It’s a small doorway, so I don’t think anybody got trampled, but people were pushing and shoving and elbows are being thrown – you know, kind of chaos. Chaos,” he said.

“Once the club starts rushing to one side, you leave,” he said. “It’s almost like a big wave. You feel it happen real quick.”

He said when they got outside, the scene was more calm, and much of the attention seemed to be focused in front of Solè restaurant.

When the shooting happened, Joshua Harris and Amy Sparent were at nearby Solè restaurant.

“It was just everyone rushing, like the manager was getting us out of there. And, yeah, there was this man. He was just telling us we need to get out. And, like, literally pushing us out just to get to safety,” Harris said.

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On the sidewalk in front of Solè on Saturday morning, there were shoes that had come off people’s feet as well as jewelry that had been dropped in the rush to get away.

Alonzo Butler was also nearby when the shooting started.

“My friend was telling me … he was like, ‘You know, the bullet went right across you,’ and I was like, ‘What?’” he said.

“I could have died that night.”

He had mixed emotions.

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“What I felt was anger, and I was disappointed,” he said.

Is downtown safe?

“I am extremely disappointed in the level of violence and the level of lawlessness that occurs in our downtown quarter late in the evening,” Mayor Garnett Johnson said.

Yet he said downtown is “overwhelmingly” safe.

However, he reached out to Gov. Brian Kemp to get some additional resources in patrolling the downtown area, especially late at night. That help was granted through the Georgia State Patrol and Georgia Department of Natural Resources, according to officials.

Roundtree said there was already an increased presence of officers in the area, and the help from the state will bolster that presence at least through the summer.

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Augusta Commission member Jordan Johnson also said downtown is safe. However, “we’re not going to yield our downtown to people who want to do bad things,” he said.

On Saturday night, there did seem to be a law enforcement presence on Broad Street. News 12 drove along the thoroughfare between 10 and 11 p.m. Saturday, and we saw:

  • A white unmarked Chevy Impala with blue lights on parked in front of Dirty Boots.
  • A deputy parked in front of the Firestone Auto Shop.
  • A Richmond County Sheriff’s Office car parked at Broad and 12th streets.
  • Some patrol cars in front of Smoke Shop.
  • A Georgia State Patrol car; the trooper had a woman in handcuffs.

Will this affect business?

Mayor Johnson said he’s heard from business owners that they want a safer downtown, and he pledged to make that happen.

At a news conference Saturday, 20 to 25 business owners confronted Roundtree with complaints and questions, especially about young people loitering. One told the sheriff that he doesn’t get a response from deputies when he calls 911.

By Saturday afternoon when the crime tape had been taken down, downtown had plenty of foot traffic.

And by Saturday evening, downtown was busy, parking was slim and restaurants had customers, although people told us business wasn’t as robust as a normal Saturday.

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Everyone was being super-cautious, Airrie Henschell, a server told us at Mellow Mushroom on Saturday.

Her pockets were taking a hit, too.

“Bills are not getting paid,” she said.

Aris Reed, co-owner of Lenox on Tenth, said the jury is still out.

“I really can’t tell,” Reed said.

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“I can’t say that we’ve seen too much of an influx or an effect on our business,” she said Saturday.

The shooting is not a reflection of Augusta, though, she said.

“It’s very welcoming,” she said, calling it a “really great community.”

Still, the downtown community is left shattered like the windows the bullets took out early Saturday.

“The one thing that we’re kind of disheartened about is the reputation of downtown Augusta just gets smeared when occurrences like this happen,” she said.

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Was this a mass shooting?

This doesn’t fit the definition of a mass shooting, but it easily could have become one, Roundtree said.

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.

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.

U.S. MASS SHOOTINGS IN 2024:

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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.

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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