COLUMBIA, S.C. – The Michael Juan Smith Trial has been over for a week, but the presence of gangs in South Carolina is still a concern for law enforcement.
Smith was convicted for attempted murder for shooting and paralyzing USC student Martha Childress in 2013, and was accused of being a gang member by witnesses.
Captain Vince Goggins of the Gang Task Force at the Richland County Sheriff’s Department testified at the trial, saying Smith was a registered gang member for the last seven years.
His testimony gave an exclusive look into The Bloods gang, what Goggins believed Smith was affiliated with. He said this gang is one of the largest in South Carolina during his testimony.
Capt. Goggins said gang education needs to begin at a young age to target the problem.
“We can’t arrest our way out of this problem, kids that don’t have anything to do, typically those are the ones they[gang members] go after,” he said. “So we got to keep our kids busy, get in those schools at an early age.”
He said SC has a gang problem, but the Gang Task Force is working to get weapons off of the streets, and businesses that condone gang meeting out of business as well.
When asked if the five points area in Columbia, where Childress was shot, has a gang problem, Goggins said the Richland County Sheriff’s Department quickly stepped in and eliminated the problem and will do so again if needed.