Davin Eldridge – Staff Writer
At approximately 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Macon County dispatch reported a domestic disturbance in the Louisa Chapel area. According to the dispatcher, the caller advised a female hitting a male subject with a frying pan. Shortly after that, law enforcement was advised of one of the subject’s possibly having access to a firearm.
On June 13, at around 5:37 p.m., another 9-1-1 call was made in reference to a woman being shot in the arm. Later on, another call was made with a similar reference. Neither turned out to be a “gunshot,” but the calls involved the threat of gun violence and were taken seriously nonetheless.
At the end of May, another call came in from Lowery Avenue, in Otto. At approximately 1:41 p.m., according to emergency services reports, the caller advised that “she had shot a male” in the upper left leg. According to officials, the victim was transported to an area hospital and is now recuperating from the attack.
With so many reports of shooting incidents, is gun violence becoming more prevalent?
According to Macon County Emergency Services Director Warren Cabe, there doesn’t appear to be a significant overall change. In 2016, EMS reported a total of six gunshot wounds in the county, two of which appeared to be suicide. The year before, there were a total of eight such injuries. Five were apparent suicides and one involved a police officer from Georgia. So far, in 2018, there have been four gunshot wounds reported, one involving a county deputy.
Whether or not there is an uptick in shootings, Cabe said EMS could stand to improve on its response to them.
“Utilizing existing staff with modified schedules has allowed us to increase our ambulance availability over the last few years without significantly adding employees, which leads to better response times based on unit availability. Personnel costs increase because they work more hours per year. At some point it makes sense to hire more employees to meet demand but so far we have been able to manage adequately. Better coordination and cooperation with Mission Hospital Regional Transport Service we believe has also resulted in better service and satisfaction particularly with inter-facility transports,” said Cape.
Like Cabe, Sheriff Robert Holland said he doesn’t suspect there’s been an increase in gun violence.
After reviewing his office’s reports, he noted in 2015, 15 aggravated assaults were reported, and 35 arrests. The following year, reports of those incidents nearly doubled, coming in at 25, while there were 31 arrests. In 2017, the number 0f incidents of aggravated assaults reported were 39. Arrests for such charges remained the same as the previous year at 31.
According to District Attorney Ashley Welch, while it really might appear that gun violence is on the rise elsewhere in the U.S. – and she stressed that she was not entirely sure herself if it was locally – she didn’t detect an increase. Although, she added that she could see why some would think so.
“With all the coverage in the media these days on things like school shootings, it’s easy to see why hearing a call come in about a gunshot would stand out more,” she said, adding that she feels there is a prominent culture of firearm safety in Macon County as well. “Between the sheriff and weapons training classes and parents, I think we’re pretty good about it.”