NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCIV) — 20 homicides. 20 silent walks for peace.
Staying true to a promise he made when he was sworn as the first African-American chief of police for North Charleston, Reggie Burgess walks for those silenced by gun violence.
During Tuesday's walk for 23-year-old Daniel George Holmes, Chief Burgess got a bit emotional.
Through tears, he recounted one of the hardest things he's ever had to endure during his 29-year-career on the police force: telling his own mother his brother had died.
In 1999, Burgess says he got a call from Georgia Highway Patrol.
"My brother, three years younger than me, that I grew up with for 33 years, the love of my life, was dead," Burgess said.
He paused as a tear fell from his face, showing he understands the pain a mother feels when she finds out her child is dead.
Those who work and live near E. Surrey Drive appreciate the Chief's approach.
"Action. It is all about action. Not just talking we have been hearing talking for years," says resident Antonio Rivers.
Rivers says he knows plenty of people who know Chief Burgess, making him just like family.
The effects of the silent walks are being noticed. Slowly but surely there's been a change.
"We've seen the effect in the community. We see the difference. I just heard the numbers, the numbers are down," Rivers says. "There was time we came out to scenes and folks were angry with us. It is changing. The folks are talking to us. They are talking to us right in front of other people they normally wouldn't talk — they wouldn't say anything to."
Not only are the homicide numbers down for the year, but now members of the community are putting themselves on the front lines.
Chief Burgess says they looked at data on when shootings were happening most, and now a group marches throughout those areas during those times, Burgess says.
Police say they are looking for a 16-year-old suspect in the shooting death of Holmes. Police also say, eight of the 20 homicides in 2018 remain unsolved.
If you have any information that could help law enforcement solve a crime in the Lowcountry, contact Crime Stoppers at 843-554-1111.