Charleston police have established no connection between two deadly shootings Saturday on the north side of the peninsula, and Chief Greg Mullen said investigators do not think the second homicide involved retaliation for the first.
Mullen said it appears the first killing was drug-related, but police aren't sure if drugs played a role in the second.
The victims, 28-year-old Jamar Gathers and 36-year-old Darron Heyward, each had a North Charleston address and a lengthy arrest record, but police have established no relationship between the men, Mullen said.
Gathers was shot to death Saturday afternoon at the Bridgeview Village housing project on North Romney Street. Police found his body lying in a pool of blood around 4 p.m. in a breezeway at the complex, in an isolated part of the city between cemeteries and the county's recycling center.
Heyward was fatally shot multiple times less than two miles away, at Nassau and Woolfe streets, shortly before 9 p.m. just a block from a busy corner of Meeting Street where a gas station and restaurant are located.
"Somebody must have seen something," said Councilman Robert Mitchell, who represents that East Side neighborhood.
On Monday afternoon, Mitchell was among a number of local officials and community leaders who joined Mullen, Mayor Joe Riley and 9th Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson in calling upon residents to contact the police or Crime Stoppers -- anonymously if necessary -- with any information about the shootings.
"We cannot be afraid, and lock our doors and close our windows, and stay inside, and let these people run wild in our community," said West Side Neighborhood Association President Arthur Lawrence.
The public call for community help is reminiscent of an incident last summer, when officials pleaded for people to come forward with information regarding the slaying of 15-year-old Jermel Brown -- killed and dumped under a highway overpass because his twin brother owed a $200 drug-related debt, prosecutors later would determine.
In that case, witnesses did come forward, resulting in the arrests of three men and the murder conviction in April of Rafael Horlbeck.
The killings on Saturday were the city's fifth and sixth homicides this year, and Riley and Mullen were quick to note that the city's violent crime rate has been declining. However, a week before the two killings, a 15-year-old boy was shot and wounded on Romney Street, and that same day somebody fired four rounds into a Bridgeview Village apartment.
"Show that you are good neighbors, good people, and you will not allow someone to come into the neighborhood and wreak havoc," the Rev. Jimmy Gallant, a councilman whose district includes Bridgeview, said Monday.
"Our detectives are working very hard, and we want to solve these crimes as soon as possible," Riley said.
State Law Enforcement Division records show that Heyward has drug and gun convictions dating back to 1990. He was convicted of unlawful possession of a machine gun or sawed-off shotgun, assault and battery of a high aggravated nature, criminal domestic violence and possession with intent to distribute cocaine.
Gathers' record dates to 1998, when he was 16, and includes arrests on charges of assaulting police and corrections employees, weapons offenses, assault with intent to kill and drug trafficking. Records don't show the outcome in many of those cases, but the outcome of Gathers' most recent day in court was a $200 fine for misdemeanor first-offense cocaine possession in January, in Sumter County.
Andy Paras contributed to this report.