SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — A mass shooting in Savannah killed two people and injured six others on Friday night.
According to the Savannah Police Department (SPD), there are eight total victims. Arthur Milton, 20, was killed in the gunfire and 26-year-old Terryl Coleman later died. A 13-year-old and an 18-month-old baby are also both suffering non-life-threatening injuries.
Police said the shooting occurred near the Fred Wessels Home apartments on Avery Street. Shots rang out around 9 p.m. when a dark-colored or red car drove by the residence and fired into a crowd of people outside the home.
SPD said they have not identified any suspects and will continue interviewing witnesses.
Savannah Police Chief Roy Minter said a shooting occurred on the same street Tuesday night, but at the time, no witnesses came forward with details.
“Two days later, we end up with a mass shooting at the same location,” Minter said. He described the shooting as a “senseless” act of gun violence, similar to what has been seen across the U.S.
“It’s very disturbing, especially when you see incidents like this that occur in the number of victims who are injured, and especially when you’re talking about an infant child,” Minter said.
Police say 60 bullet casings were recovered from the scene, and the bullets pierced cars and apartments as well.
The chief promised an enhanced police presence throughout the weekend in the Hostess City.
Savannah Mayor Van Johnson addressed reporters in a Zoom call Saturday afternoon and called on residents to step up and help police identify those involved.
“If you know something say something because if not, we’ll be doing this again tomorrow night, and I do not want to do this again tomorrow night,” Johnson said. He added, “if you’re sick and tired of it, then do something about it.”
Johnson pleaded to residents with information to step forward because if they don’t, he says they’re to blame as well. The mayor said in order to defuse and prevent gun violence, communities need interrupters and interveners to alert law enforcement proactively.
Johnson said those who would like to remain anonymous can call Savannah Police Department’s Homicide Unit at 912-651-4362, the Crime Tip Line at 912-525-3124 or Crimestoppers at 912-234-2020. He also said residents can call him directly.
“We’ve watched these types of scenarios happen across the nation,” Johnson said. “We’ve watched it, we’ve sent out our thoughts and prayers, and it’s finally reached us.”
“Right now, you know, my main concern is these young people, children have been shot. So what do we do?” Savannah Alderman Detric Leggett said. The District 2 alderman was on the scene Friday night talking to residents and the media.
“So right now, I need answers, and I need a good turnaround; I need all services. We need to pull all of our services to get all of our officers out to make sure we’re doing something that’s going to bring some people to justice behind this,” Leggett added.
District 6 Alderman Kurtis Purtee, a police captain at Georgia Southern University, said he was saddened and angered by the violence.
“I see the frustration from a law enforcement level and perspective,” he said. “It’s something we have to get a handle on immediately. If we don’t, it’s just going to get worse.”
“It’s all related to gangs. It’s either drugs or gangs,” Purtee continued, “and this is what we’re dealing with. And we have to identify that gangs are a problem here in Savannah.”
Purtee says he’s taking a community-driven approach to addressing violent crime, starting with a panel discussion this Thursday at 6:30 p.m. The event at the Armstrong Center (13040 Abercorn Street) will feature members of law enforcement, church leaders, business owners and community members.
While homicides are down slightly, violent crime is up 12% in Savannah from the previous year, according to Johnson, with mostly non-fatal crimes. He and Minter are expected to provide further updates on the shooting investigation at the mayor’s weekly press conference Tuesday morning.
Corrections: In earlier versions of this story, WSAV News 3 reported a 2-year-old was injured and a 29-year-old died. Police have since corrected the ages. The child is 18-months-old, and the victim, Terryl Coleman, was 26.