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Savannah Police Chief Roy Minter on national calls for police reform and how they’re responding in SPD. Savannah Morning News

A shooting into a crowd outside a residence in Savannah on Friday night left a 20-year-old man dead and seven others injured, two critically.

Police said during a Saturday news conference that all other victims, including an 18-month-old infant, had non-life-threatening injuries and are expected to recover. Savannah police chief Roy Minter identified the man who died as Arthur Milton and said the shooting also injured two teens, 15 and 16.

The shooting also resulted in damage to three apartments and six vehicles. Police found at least 60 shell casings at the scene, where they say someone in a dark-colored or red sedan fired shots into a group of people outside of the residence.

Minter said Friday’s shooting may be related to a previous incident at the same residence, which was damaged by 10 gunshots last Tuesday night.

“We don’t think it was a coincidence,” Minter said.

Police had not identified any suspects as of Saturday afternoon.

Minter made repeated pleas for people to come forward with information that might help with the ongoing investigation.

Police chief: Police chief: Law enforcement ‘cannot stick our heads in the sand’ on calls for reform

Other U.S. cities – including Chicago and Austin, Texas – also saw shootings with multiple victims late Friday into early Saturday, which marked the five-year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida.

Nationwide, there have been 17 mass killings so far this year, defined as at least four people killed, not including the shooter, according to a USA TODAY/Associated Press/Northeastern University database. Sixteen of those were shootings.

Minter called recent instances of gun violence across the country “disturbing and senseless” and said this was the 14th homicide in Savannah this year.

“We continue to see these instances of gun violence occurring in our community, Minter said. “These senseless acts of gun violence in our community have to stop.”

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson said violent crimes are up by about by 12%, most involving non-fatal shootings. 

The solution, Johnson said, isn’t more police on the streets. He emphasized the need for engaged residents to speak up when they see wrongdoing. Such action, Johnson and Minter said, might possibly have pre-empted what developed Friday. 

“We cannot police our way out of this and we do not want to be a police state,” Johnson said. “We recognize that police are our partners, but we have to be partners to the police.”

Johnson joined Minter in pleading for the people to come forward. 

“Often times people have told me they don’t want to get involved, they just mind their own business,” Johnson said. “When I was coming up, that’s just not how we were raised. We were raised in way that if it happened on your block, it was everybody’s business. We had a spirit of community, of communication and unity.”

He pointed out a variety of ways in which people can provide information to law enforcement. That includes contacting him directly, as well as other council members, and community faith leaders if they don’t feel comfortable calling the police or Crimestoppers.

Nancy Guan is the general assignment reporter covering Chatham County municipalities. Reach her at nguan@gannett.com or on Twitter @nancyguann.

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