AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Augusta Mayor Garnett Johnson has released a statement addressing recent ‘youth violence’ in the Augusta-Richmond County community.

On Tuesday, local law enforcement responded to a massive brawl at Butler High School, resulting in the suspensions and arrests of a number of students.

And on Wednesday, the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office responded to a shooting inside T.W. Josey High School, which stemmed from an argument in the school cafeteria. One student was injured in that incident, and another listed as a suspect.

Mayor Johnson says he’s saddened by the increase in violence in the Augusta community, and is working to strengthen youth initiatives.

You can read his full statement below:

Last Thursday started out great with a discussion about our workforce hub initiative at the CSRA SHRM. Then, my team and I attended the Released Time Bible Education luncheon and discussed teaching students about the love of Christ.

Unfortunately, Thursday afternoon, I paid a visit to a grieving family that was preparing for the funeral of their 15-year-old son. He should be enjoying his first days of school, but instead his family is mourning his loss.

This is the second 15-year-old lost to violence, and the second young person, within a month, killed in the neighborhood where I grew up.

Now, less than one week later, there has been a shooting at one of our schools.

I am saddened by the increased violence in our community.

As Mayor, I do not have jurisdiction over law enforcement or our courts. However, I can work to
strengthen programming initiatives for our youth. We need to create safe havens for our children, including expanding after school and summer programming offered by our recreation centers.

We need an awareness campaign to inform parents about the options available to their children.
We are calling for volunteers that are willing to roll up their sleeves and help, whether that’s transporting students to after school programming, tutoring our youth, or participating in mentorship opportunities.

Please stay tuned for more information.

Garnett L. Johnson
Mayor of Augusta, Ga.