TAYLORS, SC (WSPA) – The Greenville County Sheriff’s Office held a news conference Tuesday to discuss the case surrounding the shooting death of a Wade Hampton High School senior.
Makiya Hawkins, 17, died Sunday after she was shot behind the Pavilion Recreation Center in Taylors.
Sheriff Will Lewis says Hawkins was caught in the crossfire of a gang-related shooting.
“We have no indication at all, no reason to believe, that Makiya was in any way involved with a gang,” Lewis said.
He said she was just a bystander.
Investigators said the person, or people, responsible are still out there.
“I want to make sure the people who leveled the trigger in this case do not see the outside of a jail cell for the rest of their life. For those of you who were out there at the crime that night who left Makiya laying there, I’ll find you. And when I do, you’re going to be held as responsible as the person who leveled the trigger. The only thing you can do for yourself at this point is to come see us. We’re open 24/7. But I promise you that if you left that child laying to die in the dark park at 12:30, you’re gonna be in trouble,” Lewis said.
Forensic crews took pictures of potential bullet holes in a tennis court netting, while a K-9 team searched the area on Monday.
The coroner says Makiya died from a gunshot wound to the head. The shooting has been ruled a homicide.
“It’s very sorrowful to see this happen on a weekly, monthly basis that just seems like it’s happening too often,” said Sgt. Ryan Flood with the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office.
Makiya was just weeks away from graduating high school. She’s the fourth teen fatally shot in the Upstate in just one month.
Lewis said he intends to crack down on gangs in Greenville County by starting a 5 person anti-gang task force, paid for through reallocation of funds and help from the county. He stressed they would be responsible for cracking down on the gang related crimes within Greenville County.
“I want investigators specifically designated to our own yard,” Lewis said. “It’s not my problem to figure out how it got here. It’s my problem to solve it.”
He said he’s seeing an uptick in the amount of teens resorting to guns and extreme violence.
“You pull that trigger knowing that you can’t take back what comes out of that barrel. You make that choice,” said Lewis. “Why you would consciously make that decision knowing that potential outcome is beyond me.”
If you know anything about the shooting, you are urged to call the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office at 864-467-5300 or Crime Stoppers of Greenville at 864-23-CRIME.
Wade Hampton High School students wore purple to honor Makiya on Tuesday. The school district says her seat on graduation day will remain empty, but will be covered with a purple sash.