Vigil focuses on stemming crime
MCCLELLANVILLE -- When a shooting-victim was buried earlier this month behind St. James AME Church, assistant pastor Patricia Middleton thought it was time to do something.
Violence and drugs never have been considered to be extremely out of hand in the rural area north of Mount Pleasant, but Middleton said the pace is getting worse.
"The church is here for young people," Middleton said Sunday night during a small gathering in the roadside community of Pineland. "And we are here to give positive feedback."
Middleton was one of 50 people who met in the windy dark along U.S. Highway 17. Those who attended the rally said drugs have become the worst part of the recent scourge.
"It's not lack of guidance; it's drugs," said area resident Laurel Thompson. The problem really started to turn bad in the past two years as outsiders started targeting the area, she said.
But there also is gun violence, most recently about two weeks ago when Patrick Young, 25, of McBride Road died of two gunshot wounds. No charges were lodged against the man who admitted he shot and killed Young; authorities said the incident appeared to be a case of self-defense.
Middleton said the issue is an overall breakdown in community and that if crime can get an inch, it will take a mile. That is why she is calling on community groups to be formed and aimed at stemming the tide of children going astray.
Charleston County Sheriff's authorities said that crime statistics for the region north of Mount Pleasant do not suggest the number of violent crimes are increasing. The southern part of the county, which includes the communities of Ravenel and Hollywood, seems to draw more severe incident reports, said public information officer Maj. John Clark.
Those two communities can be influenced by the recent spate of gunplay that has affected Colleton County, he said. "We have not seen the same correlation with McClellanville and Georgetown County," Clark said.
But Middleton said the fear of any crime is real. She would like to see more community clubs spring up as a means to gauge local needs and to find ways to root out drug dealers. Other ideas include cleaning up neighborhoods or getting drainage ditches cleared as simple beautification efforts.
Others said the issue is one of self-pride for youth.
"Today we have failed our youth," said the Rev. Raymond Young of the First Seewee Missionary Baptist Church. "We see them disrespect their elders and we don't say a word."
Middleton said the important thing is to take action now, before the situation gets out of hand for everyone. "These people are just scared," she said.