Seven drive-by shootings put Winnsboro leaders on edge

WINNSBORO – Amid surging gun violence across the nation, including recent mass shootings in Buffalo, Tulsa, and Uvalde, Texas, the town of Winnsboro is grappling with a series of drive-by shootings of its own.

Since April 21, there have been seven documented shooting incidents, one as recent as early Monday morning, according to reports filed with the Winnsboro Police Department.

Four have happened since June 2, reports show.

No arrests have been made in any of the cases and there haven’t been any confirmed injuries, but the sheer number of shootings and the danger they pose is now a focus of the mayor and town administration.

Town leaders react

Town Manager Jason Taylor called the recent rash of shooting incidents “unacceptable.”

While he’s grateful nobody’s been hurt, Taylor said efforts are underway to prevent future shootings. Those efforts include increased patrols and installing security cameras.

“This is not acceptable. This should not be normal,” Taylor said. “We do not want to see guns discharged within our town.”

Police Chief John Seibles said at least five arrest warrants have been obtained, two of them for attempted murder.

In some instances, the public has been reluctant to cooperate, but Seibles said Investigator Oren Gadson has received enough assistance from residents to zero in on some suspects.

“We certainly intend to bring an end to this very soon,” Seibles said. “We are working very hard.

“We are pursuing this very diligently. This will not be taken lightly in the Town of Winnsboro.”

Seibles believes most shootings seem to be acts of retribution.

“There are little groups going back and forth,” he said. “It’s retaliatory.”

Mayor John McMeekin agreed that it’s imperative to put an end to the shootings.

“We feel we have identified the shooters and when they are apprehended, we will pursue justice to the fullest extent of the law,” McMeekin said.

“If people don’t feel comfortable and safe in their own town that’s not good,” he said. “We must provide a safe environment, a safe town for our citizens. And we will.”

Where the shootings happened

The shootings were within a 1.5 mile radius, three of them occurring on West College Street.

On April 21, at about 5 a.m., someone fired about six shots at a home in the 900 block of West College Street.

An incident report said bullets struck the storm door and also some vehicles. Police found several shell casings about 15 feet from the home.

Another shooting occurred four days later in the 400 block of West College Street.

At about 9:30 p.m., several people reported that they heard at least four gunshots, but police were unable to find any physical evidence.

On May 29, police were called to another address in the 400 block of West College Street for a report of shots fired around 10:50 p.m. The shooter or shooters fired several shots before taking off running toward the bottom of Zion Hill.

This time, the police report identified one possible suspect. Seibles said three warrants have been obtained in association with the incident.

There were also unconfirmed accounts of injuries and that the person or persons were at Castlewood Apartments, the report continued.

However, when police arrived, officers found no evidence of any injuries and residents refused to cooperate with police.

The next two incidents occurred on Zion Street on June 2 and June 4. Police reported evidence of gunfire and property damage in both shootings.

The sixth shooting happened June 8 in the vicinity of Castlewood Apartments.

The victims were traveling on Calhoun Street when someone in a gray Dodge Charger fired several shots at them, according to the report.

Seibles said two warrants for attempted murder have been obtained in this case.

In the latest shooting, early Monday morning, about 3 a.m., a woman on Vanderhorst Street in Winnsboro reported that her house had been “shot up,” according to an incident report.

Residents of the home reported that they were inside when they heard between seven and 10 gunshots and that three had struck the house.

While no one was reported injured, officers reported that one of the three bullet holes was in the door, and that it appeared the bullet had traveled through the door, into the house, through the middle wall, and was lodged in an interior door.

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