Cruising down Seaside Lane in his blue Chevrolet, Sgt. Shawn James thought about a series of recent shootings that shocked the normally quiet neighborhood.

The veteran Charleston County Sheriff's Office deputy knows James Island well. Seaside, neighboring Greenhill Road and other nearby streets have weighed heavily on his mind lately.

The violence began June 5 with a shooting on Greenhill. It continued June 10 with a homicide and June 12 with a related shooting — all on Greenhill.

Residents called with tips, but the latter two shootings remain unsolved.

James hopes longstanding relationships he has with residents will help change that.

"It's frustrating for me when we don't solve it because I feel like this is my area," he said. "People need closure."

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Sgt. Shawn James checks in on residents on Greenhill Road during his shift with the Island Sheriff's Patrol on June 28, 2018, on James Island. Andrew J. Whitaker/Staff

Sometimes, building trust means starting with smaller, unrelated issues.

On a warm evening in late June, the sergeant and Melvenia White, spoke about her concerns, such as speeding drivers.

With school out, children are playing and walking along the roadside, said White, a 40-year resident of the neighborhood.

"There's been a lot more police in the last five or six years," she said.

That increased presence, and an ongoing project to install sidewalks, gives her comfort.

James is a 20-year veteran of the Sheriff's Office and spends some of his off hours working a special assignment: the Island Sheriff's Patrol.

The patrol is a partnership between the town of James Island and the Sheriff's Office. It uses off-duty deputies to supplement the five on-duty deputies and supervisor who police the area.

Following the shootings, James Island Town Council approved a $100,000 funding increase to provide more hours for the additional patrols. There were 18 deputies working part time before the approval of extra funds, which will allow for the hourly equivalent of four deputies working full time, according to town officials. 

Proponents say the program helps ensure faster response times, grows community policing initiatives and provides extra law enforcement presence in communities experiencing problems with crime, like Greenhill. Deputies are paid directly by the town.

"Our main goal is to make people feel safe," James said.

Although the recent shootings have left many in the community scared, the deputy said such crimes are far from daily occurrences.

Speeding and other traffic violations are ongoing issues. There's been a series of break-ins to unlocked vehicles and the island has seen some residential burglaries, James said.

This night would prove to be relatively quiet.

Shortly after leaving Seaside, the radio inside James' unmarked SUV crackled to life: a crash with injuries. 

James switched on his flashing lights and headed to the scene in front of James Island Town Hall on Camp Road. He arrived within a minute and firefighters were on scene shortly after. The first on-duty patrol deputy arrived about nine minutes after the call.

After speaking with the victims, James comforted a boy who was riding in one of the vehicles. He gave the child a sticker in the shape of a Sheriff's Office badge.

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Sgt. Shawn James checks in on passengers involved in a crash on Camp Road during his shift with the Island Sheriff's Patrol on June 28, 2018, on James Island. James got to the scene within a minute. Andrew J. Whitaker/Staff

As the night wore on, James drove to Greenhill Road to ask residents about the June 10 and 12 shootings. 

Investigators believe they are related and involved drugs. They have strong suspicions about who is responsible but don't have enough information to make arrests in the homicide that left 28-year-old Kurt Melton dead.

Two days later, residents woke up around 3 a.m. to the sound of more gunshots on the same street. A woman was wounded, her home peppered with bullets. 

While authorities haven't made arrests in connection with those shootings, two men, Melvin Aiken Jr. and Steven Ladson, have been charged in connection with the June 5 shooting. 

Ladson was the gunman while Aiken restricted the victim's movements, according to an affidavit. The men assaulted the victim and Ladson opened fire a short time later, the document alleged. 

Investigators have not established any connection between this shooting and the others but are urging the public to contact law enforcement if they have any information, said Capt. Roger Antonio, a Sheriff's Office spokesman.

"It's not so much about them telling us the story," Antonio said. "If they tell us the key players, who may be a witness or an involved subject, that is just as important." 

On Greenhill Road, James came across what seemed like a block party.

After talking to a few people, he found out that an elderly woman had died of natural causes and that relatives were gathering after the funeral to celebrate her life. 

James spoke to a group of men who had gathered across the road. He asked them if they knew anything about the shootings or if they had heard anything they wanted to talk about.

One by one they shook their heads.

"No," they said.

Reach Gregory Yee at 843-937-5908. Follow him on Twitter @GregoryYYee.

Gregory Yee covers breaking news and public safety. He's a native Angeleno and previously covered crime and courts for the Press-Telegram in Long Beach, CA. He studied journalism and Spanish literature at the University of California, Irvine.