North Charleston group fighting back after 2 neighborhood homicides

By Eric

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- After two homicides within ten hours of each other Thursday, a North Charleston group says it's tired of the gun violence in its neighborhood and is ready to fight back.

They say they favor the assault weapons bans that have{}received so much recent attention, but stress it's the illegal handguns that are being used to kill their young people.

"We have to get the guns out of the community where a 16-year-old can find a 9-millimeter handgun for $40," said Elder James Johnson, the organizer of the Coalition to Take Back Our Community.

There was first a double shooting that ended in{}the death of one man{}last Thursday on Dorchester Road. Then just hours later, a 19-year-old was shot to death on Saratoga Road. Family members say the man responsible was the teen's friend. It's a culture the group is fighting to stop.

But before they face the problem, they must first face the fear that's over taken their streets.

"There's a lot, a lot (of it). I was just talking to a gentleman as we were standing here," said Pastor Thomas Dixon. "I could see the fear in his eyes as he made excuses about not coming out."

But Dixon and the coalition{}turned out anyway in front of the house where police say Rodriguez Henderson was killed. Organizers are pleading with state and local lawmakers to help them make an impact.

"There needs to be stiffer penalties for the possession of unregistered firearms, very stiff penalties and swift retribution for anyone caught possessing an unregistered firearm," Dixon said.

This group is recruiting young men to walk the streets with them in the Waylyn Community on{}Friday and Saturday nights and{}to take a stand. They also will begin to record surveillance of several streets, including Saratoga Road.

"We will be here in two weeks filming every car that comes into these high-crime streets," said Johnson. "It's very important because if we don't do it now it won't stop."

There has been a bill filed by Rep. Wendell Gilliard to strengthen laws against illegal guns. The bill has stalled {}in Columbia.

The coalition has also met with the North Charleston Police Department looking for its support. Monday, the department said it looks forward to working with them.