Hundreds gather for St. Helena Island crime forum

Published: Jul. 26, 2012 at 3:56 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 6, 2012 at 8:56 PM EDT
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ST. HELENA ISLAND, SC (WTOC) - It was a packed house as hundreds showed up for a community crime forum on St. Helena Island, hoping to stop the violence.

"The main reason we came is to find out what we can do to help prevent the crime," said Zezalee Smalls.

"It is concerning to hear your neighbors say they are afraid at night or they don't know what's going to happen next, so it's a little scary," said Diana Bunting.

"I wanted to see a change in our community," said Nate Glover.

Sheriff P.J. Tanner called the meeting after a number of recent crimes and shooting, including four homicides in just 8 months. He says their biggest hurdle is getting cooperation and the information they need to put criminals behind bars.

"We have crimes being committed on St. Helena by folks living on St. Helena, maybe working on St. Helena, so we have to do something to get the communication started," said Tanner.

He says communication is the key.

"If you have these types of crimes occurring in your community, if you live in that community, you are in harms way," said Tanner.

Tanner is urging everyone to get involved and report any tips to Crime Stoppers. He also discussed the Mob Statute they're going to be using, which will allow the Solicitor to subpoena witnesses to testify. If they don't testify, they could be held in contempt of court.

"Is that a tough stance for us to take, absolutely no question about it, but folks we're at that point," said Tanner.

"It's a great idea because people don't want to say anything," said Edward Johnson.

To show the seriousness of the problems, Tanner played YouTube videos from St. Helena depicting drug use and explicit words, even showing kids in the videos.

But many in the crowd say seeing this many people in attendance is encouraging and they hope it will lead to a safer community.

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