Getting to the root of crime in Columbus

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Mayor Teresa Tomlinson tells News 3 at least 12 of the 26 murders this year are considered gang related. Columbus Police also believe some of the murders are due to retaliation.

Concern and anger continue to grow among those who call Columbus home after two more shootings within two hours resulted in three deaths.

“You must get concerned. It’s very important to be concerned,” Edgewood Neighborhood Watch CEO Isaac Brown Jr. said.

Many demand solutions from police and the mayor, but also realize the community is just as responsible.

“Certainly it’s going to take a lot on the black community because we realize that this is our problem but when you have a problem in one segment of the community it’s actually a community-wide problem,” St. James Missionary Baptist Church Reverend Ralph Huling said.

To help solve the problem, Rev. Huling plans to meet with Columbus Police, the sheriff’s department and even former gangsters.

One necessary solution is finding ways to prevent gang violence, which accounts for nearly half of the murders in Columbus.

Many ask why there is not a gang task force in Columbus.

“They think because we don’t have something called a gang task force we don’t have people working on gang issues and so I would say that is very largely a misnomer,” Mayor Teresa Tomlinson said.

Columbus Police Lieutenant Roderick Graham is in charge of heading up the effort against gang violence.

He told News every officer knows about gang activity and what to look for.

“It is with 400 individuals so we have, if you want to call it that, the largest gang task force in the state of Georgia because every officer is a part of our gang task force,” Lt. Graham said.

Whether gang violence will slow down is unknown, but one thing is clear when it comes to the surge in shootings.

“This is a problem that has gotten out of hand and Columbus is a better town than this,” Rev. Huling said.

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