AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF)- Several shootings in the Aiken area recently show that gun violence appears to be on the rise.
In October, a 12-year-old in Aiken was killed in a drive by shooting while sleeping and now a mass shooting took place at a club there early Saturday.
One man is dead and 14 others injured in a drive by shooting in Aiken early Saturday morning. Some say that despite the recent gun violence, they still feel safe in Aiken.
Others say they don’t understand why so many people were at a club so late at night during a pandemic.
“I think it’s awful. It’s sad. It’s awful. I mean, stuff like this should not be happening this close to home, or in my hometown,” said Ashton Williamson, an Aiken County resident.
Early Saturday around 1 a.m., the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office reported a light-colored Chevy Tahoe with at least three people in it, opened fire on Seventh Lounge in Aiken, injuring 14 people and killing 30-year-old Craig Youmans of North Augusta.
Aiken County Capt. Eric Abdullah says deputies went to the nightclub, where they found people with injuries. They helped then and secure the crime scene before finding Youmans dead.
One Aiken man says he feels reasonably safe in Aiken, but was concerned about a busy club during a pandemic. While at the nightclub, WJBF reporters saw no COVID-19 warning signs telling patrons to wear masks or socially distance.
“You know that late, I don’t know if they got a curfew or if they were following the COVID protocol, but I think that’s kind of scary. It’s somewhere I wouldn’t be,” said Carl Bussey.
In October, Gov. Henry McMaster lifted all restaurant occupancy restrictions, but still recommended social distancing. He did not lift his “last call order” which restricts alcohol sales after 11 p.m.
There is currently no word on how many people were in the club or if they were following CDC Guidelines.
Williamson says she doesn’t judge others on their choices, but she will watch out for herself.
“I personally wouldn’t do it. I’m not going to put myself in a situation to get sick, let alone be out there where violence is gonna be.”
Shawn Boyd lives in Augusta, but says he is concerned about the rise in gun violence in the region.
“Like in Augusta, we had a young man get shot in the Augusta Mall. It gives you something to think about as far as going to public places. I try to be as careful as possible, but there’s only so much we can do,” said Boyd.
There has been no word on the conditions of the 14 injured victims. Bussey says he hopes they are all ok.
“I hope everybody recovers, you know, and all of that, and that’s sad. Especially here in Aiken and you know, I pray for ’em.”
If you have any information on the investigation or if you have video or information on the suspects, call the Aiken County Sheriff’s office at 803-648-6811. The information can be provided anonymously and there is a $1000 reward for information leading to an arrest.
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