Highest homicide rate in Beaufort Co. in 20 years

Highest homicide rate in Beaufort Co. in 20 years

BEAUFORT CO., SC (WTOC) - The year 2015 was Beaufort's deadliest year since the mid-1990s.

The Beaufort County Sheriff's Office says 18 people were killed county-wide last year, the youngest was only 6 years old.

Most of the murder suspects and victims are under the age of 25. The Sheriff's Office says the criminals are killing people, with illegal guns.

"Part of the problem is we can't predict where the next murder is going to be. We can't be everywhere. These are individual cases with individual motives it makes it extremely difficult for any prevention efforts," said BCSO Cpt. Bob Bromage.

The Sheriff's Office says it's hard to anticipate when, or where, the next homicide will happen but deputies are noticing a disturbing trend.

"A lot of them are young kids out there with guns illegally. Possessing guns, whether they're stolen guns or these kids are involved in illegal activities like drug dealing upfront. Those are usually the motives behind the shooting," said Cpt. Bromage.

Take a look at what we found. Twelve of the 18 homicide victims in 2015 are under the age of 30. Eleven of the suspects arrested are 25 years old and younger. The youngest murder suspect is only 15.

"It's very alarming and really heart wrenching. It really hurts that our young people don't even have a clue," said Sandy Williams, local advocate against gun violence.

Williams and other local advocates against gun violence are starting an organization to give teens something to do. They're hoping keeping teens occupied with positive role models will keep them out of trouble.

"It's hurting because those are young lives that are going to waste. Both lives have been destroyed and we got to reach out. We've really got to reach out into the community," said Williams.

Of last year's 18 homicides, five of them are still unsolved. Law enforcement says this year they will be focused on getting those murder suspects off of the streets.

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