Sheriff says teen slain behind Pavilion was caught in gang-related crossfire

Makiya Hawkins Source Greenville County Schools.png

TAYLORS, SC (FOX Carolina) -

The Greenville County Sheriff said a teenager fatally shot behind a recreation complex was an innocent victim of gang-related violence.

Sheriff Will Lewis said on Saturday night around 11:30 p.m. deputies were dispatched to a large party on Devonwood Court. Deputies reportedly dispersed the crowd but were called back to the same street shortly thereafter to break up the party again after it reformed at another home.

Lewis said at the time, deputies had no indication any weapons were involved.

At 12:15 a.m. on Sunday, deputies said they were called to the Pavilion Recreation Complex on Scottswood Road in regards to a shooting. Lewis said it appeared the crowed dispersed on Devonwood Court had moved to outside the Pavilion.

When deputies arrived on scene, they said they found a large group of people and found 17-year-old Makiya Alexandria Hawkins lying on the ground behind the Pavilion. The teen had reportedly suffered at least one gunshot wound to the head and was transported to the hospital in critical condition.

Hawkins later passed away at the hospital on Mother's Day, according to the coroner. Her death was officially ruled a homicide after an autopsy on Monday.

On Tuesday, Lewis held a press conference to give an update on the shooting. He said he has taken a special interest in the case and has dedicated resources from specialized teams to resolving the case as quickly as possible.

“My stomach’s been turning, my heart has been wrenching since I got this phone call," Lewis said.

According to Lewis, the shooting appears to be connected to gang violence and Hawkins was simply a bystander. He said there is no indication she was in any way affiliated with a gang.

No suspects have been publicly identified yet in the case. The sheriff urged anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers.

Lewis said some individuals stayed at the shooting scene with Hawkins to try to render aid, but many fled. For those who left Hawkins wounded on the ground, Lewis had a harsh message: "I will find you."

“I promise you if you left that child laying to die in a dark park at 12:30, you will be in trouble," Lewis said.

He said he anticipates the investigation to be short-lived since so many witnesses were on scene.

Hawkins was a senior at Wade Hampton High School, only weeks away from graduation. She had reportedly already received an acceptance letter from South Carolina State University. Additional counselors were made available at the school on Monday for grieving students. Lewis said faculty and staff at the school are struggling with the loss.

A group of Wade Hampton students wore purple to honor Hawkins. A spokesperson for the district said at graduation on June 1, a seat with a purple sash will remain empty in memory of her.

Bob Mihalic, the Greenville County Governmental Affairs Coordinator, said there have been no prior incidents at the Pavilion.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 23-CRIME.

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