St. Helena leaders work to reduce crime

Published: Jul. 9, 2012 at 10:32 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 6, 2012 at 8:59 PM EDT
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Beaufort County Sheriff P.J. Tanner
Beaufort County Sheriff P.J. Tanner

ST. HELENA ISLAND, SC (WTOC) - Investigators have been busy recently on St. Helena Island. Earlier this month, shots rang out at the Midnight Soul Patrol Club, killing two people. Not long after, a home went up in flames and now, investigators are calling it suspicious. Also, this past weekend, there was a drive by shooting on Seaside Road near Ball Park Road.

"We must put a stop to it. This is out of hand. It has been out of hand for a while," said Sheriff P.J. Tanner, Beaufort County Sheriff's Office.

While Tanner says it is too early to tell if these crimes are connected, he says a lot of the violence going on is centered around two groups on the island.

"There are a lot of issues on St. Helena between different groups. They refer to themselves as the MOEs and the MOBs. It is not necessarily a gang type, it is more of a community type thing. It's Delamo against Ballpark. It is a community driven attitude," said Tanner.

The sheriff says although they have beefed up patrols, they are not getting the cooperation they need to solve the crimes.

"It is the biggest challenge, especially when you have those who are not cooperating. When a victim is not cooperating after a shooting and they know who shot them and do not want to tell anyone, that is a problem and that is what we are dealing with," said Tanner.

Tanner and 14th Circuit Solicitor Duffie Stone are taking action. They are hoping a statute called the Mob Statute, which has not been used before, will help subpoena witnesses and get the information they need to put criminals behind bars.

"In South Carolina, two or more people committing acts of violence are considered a mob for the purposes of this statute. It allows the solicitor to open an investigation into this type of activity and subpoena witnesses. We are going to take sworn testimony and we are going to continue to do so until we get to the bottom of this," said Stone.

The sheriff and the solicitor are also working on other options to stop the violence. Tanner is in the process of organizing a community meeting to talk with residents in the area and urge them to get involved and cooperate with law enforcement.

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