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Yemassee PD investigating mass shooting

Published: Sep. 19, 2021 at 9:48 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 20, 2021 at 3:43 PM EDT
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YEMASSEE, S.C., (WTOC) - The Yemassee Police Department is investigating a mass shooting that left one person dead and seven others injured.

According to Yemassee Police Chief Gregory Alexander, the shooting happened around 12:15 a.m. Sunday on St. Clair Street near the Snappy Foods convenience store.

Chief Alexander said he believes an argument took place and things escalated. There were at least 20 shots fired, striking eight people, including a 31-year-old, a 22-year-old, two 14-year-olds, two 12-year-olds and an 8-year-old.

“Surely, surely... I could never think that a shooter intended on shooting an 8-year-old and 12 -year-old. When you start shooting that gun, you have no direction over where that bullet’s going at so that’s why you need not to do it.”

The eighth victim was a 33-year-old male who died from his injures. He has been identified as Willie Roberts.

Tiffany Holmes, the mother of Roberts’ two children, gave WTOC this written statement, “Willie had a good heart. He was a proud dad to our daughters, he adored those girls and he loved his family dearly. He was jokey, always smiling and wanting to have fun with his family and friends. He didn’t deserve this. Now, he has a mother that lost a husband and son and the mother of his kids struggling to find the words to explain to a 3 and 4 year old. My pain runs deep. I have known Willie for over 10 years and we dated off and on for 6 years with two kids. I have to many memories to just replay one. Willie will be missed and I will make sure my kids never forget him. We love you WILLIE ALSO KNOW AS CHILL.”

The other victims sustained non-life-threatening injures and were taken to nearby hospitals. The chief said this area is not known for a lot of crime.

“I’ve been here 21 years. I’ve never had it happen.”

Officials said they believe this was an isolated incident and the suspects all knew each other.

Chief Alexander said the victims were not all from Yemassee, but are from the surrounding areas.

“I promise you there’s not gonna be any rocks not unturned and we can do what we gotta do to solve this crime.”

He also said earlier this year, South Carolina passed a law allowing people with concealed weapons permits to carry their guns in the open. That law went into effect in August and he says it makes doing their jobs a lot harder.

“We did see people out here with firearms and you know with the new law we can’t even question them about carrying firearms and that puts a hamper on law enforcement. Now you know people out here have guns besides the police and that ain’t never good.”

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the Yemassee Police Department at 843-589-3126. A cash reward is being offered to anyone with video of the incident.

Chief Alexander answered media questions for about 20 minutes on Monday. As of now they have not made any arrests, but he says they’re close. Anderson specifically asking for help from the community around them.

“We need people to come out and make statements because just word of mouth, we think we know who done it, but just word of mouth is not enough for us to get an arrest warrant. We cannot convince the judge to get an arrest warrant on just word of mouth.”

He says videos are even more helpful, and for those the department is offering cash rewards.

“If you need a few extra dollars for Christmas, now is a good time to do it. Share that video.”

We also learned that the shooting happened at an annual gathering of about 400 people, but the chief re-affirmed multiple times that it had nothing to do with the Shrimp Festival about a quarter of the mile down the road.

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