SOUTH CAROLINA (WJBF) – A spokesperson for the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division says that this weekend’s murders, sadly, “fall right in line” with what SLED is seeing statewide right now.

Early Saturday morning, 19-year-old Tyqueyveon Badger, was found shot inside the city limits of Blackville, S.C., and later pronounced dead. The Barnwell County Coroner’s Office said that Badger was a resident of the city of Barnwell for the past few years but had ties to Blackville and had lived there before. Badger’s time of death was called at 02:08 a.m., Saturday, June 12th. SLED was later called in for assistance in the case and will be working with local enforcement on the case.

Agents with SLED have already responded and are working with local law enforcement in Barnwell County on that case. No address for the scene of the crime has publicly released at this time.

A second shooting was reported in Aiken Saturday morning. Aiken Department of Public Safety (ADPS) responded to a shooting on Sommers Avenue at Alfred Street. Two people had allegedly been shot and taken themselves to the hospital.

Then, in a separate case, two people were reported as potential gunshot victims early Sunday morning, June 13th, near the 300 block of North Bouknight Ferry Road, which is within the city limits of Saluda, SC. According to a spokesperson for SLED, when officers with the Saluda Police Department arrived on the scene, one of the two shooting victims they encountered was already deceased.

In this case, SLED confirms that Saluda Police Chief Kes Holmes made a call of assistance to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and that SLED, as a result, as now taken the lead in this investigation.

Tommy Crosby, public spokesperson for SLED, points to a recent, rare press conference held Thursday, June 3rd, by the top law enforcement official of SLED Chief Mark Keel, who’s held that position since July 2011.

The press conference was held because, according to preliminary statistics gathered from law enforcement agencies across the state of South Carolina last year, 2020 was one of the most violent years on record in the state.

Chief Keel said that the numbers indicated that this was more than a law enforcement problem, but that “it’s everybody’s problem.”

According to preliminary crime data gathered by SLED, murders went up by 25% in 2020. Authorities in South Carolina are reporting 571 murders compared to 457 in 2019. This includes an increase in aggravated assaults last year, as well.

Crosby, following Chief Keel’s lead, said that these concerns about the rising tide of violence are what SLED is hearing from local police chiefs and sheriffs across the state. He further added that we’ve yet to hit the Summer months, which is when incidents of violent crime often become privy to a noticeable increase.

According to SLED, accounting for the incidents that have already taken place this year, 2021 is on track to be even more violent than 2020.

If you have any information on either of the above cases, SLED has a special phone and web service set up specifically for the public to give assistance in on-going investigations. If you have an anonymous tip you’d like to give in either the Aiken, Blackville or Saluda shootings, or other criminal investigations being handled by SLED, you are encouraged to go to the website or to call 888-Crime-SC (888-274-6372).