Homicides prompt vigil, walk from Conway leaders to amp up community watch efforts

troot@thesunnews.comJanuary 23, 2013 

  • Samuel Floyd Community Watch Vigil Want to go? When: 6 p.m. Where: Horry County Courthouse, 1301 Second Avenue, Conway

— Conway leaders want to get the community involved in protecting their neighborhoods following two deadly shootings in the city within 11 days.

A candlelight vigil and neighborhood walks are set for Thursday night in the river town.

The Samuel Floyd Community Watch Vigil is set for 6 p.m. Thursday on the steps of the Horry County Courthouse and following that two neighborhood walks will be held in the Taylor Square and Sugar Hill communities, said Catina Hipp, public information officer with Conway police.

The vigil will include comments from city leaders and various members of the community and was organized by the Samuel Floyd community watch group, said Conway police Sgt. Darren Alston.

“They want to remember the loved ones and the family members they have lost through violent crimes,” Alston said of the vigil.

The neighborhood walks teams residents with police officers to walk their streets and talk about crime and how to make their homes safer, Alston said. Between eight and 10 officers will participate in Thursday’s walks.

“We can actually see more and most importantly interact more with the neighbors and residents in the community as we walk,” Alston said of the new initiative. “Even if they don’t live in the community, we want them to come out and get involved. We’re going to do this in other communities as well. Walk with us and talk with us. What you see in one community could affect yours.”

Residents should bring a flashlight and plan to get some exercise, Alston said. Residents also will be encouraged to form crime watch groups, if their neighborhood is not one of the 25 groups in the city. The groups meet with Alston either monthly or every other month for about an hour at the Collins Park recreation center on 16th Avenue.

“It’s a good way to get to know the officers before something bad happens,” he said.

Conway police continue to investigate two homicides that occurred within 11 days of each other.

A 15-year-old boy was charged Jan. 11 with murder and two counts of attempted murder in the most recent shooting death that occurred about 2:30 p.m. Jan. 7 at a home in the 2000 block of Sixth Avenue in the city’s Sugar Hill community, police said. Sylvester Lorenzo Bell Jr., 36, of Conway died from a gunshot wound to the head and another man was shot in the leg during the incident.

On Dec. 27, on Ninth Avenue, Dwayne Gaghum, 53, was shot in the head and killed while driving a Dodge pickup truck that crashed into a home. At 3:30 p.m. that day, Conway police were called to Hemingway Street for a report of shots being fired, according to a press release. That afternoon, police said the incident was a traffic investigation and did not hint of suspecting foul play.

The next day, police said it was a homicide and the investigation continues.

No other details about either incident have been released.

Anyone with information about the homicides can call Conway police at 248-1790.

Anyone who wants to form a crime watch or neighborhood walk in their community can call Sgt. Darren Alston at 488-7669.

Contact TONYA ROOT at 444-1723 or follow her at Twitter.com/tonyaroot.

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