The Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department held a press conference Sept. 6 in regard to several shootings that occurred over the Labor Day Weekend.

The SCMPD Criminal Investigations Division is now investigating seven shooting incidents, involving nine people and resulting in two deaths.

“This weekend’s events have been disturbing to say the least,” said Maj. Richard Zapal, commander of the Criminal Investigations Division. “Detectives and forensics investigators are literally working around the clock to solve these cases and lock up these violent offenders.”

At this stage of these investigations six of the seven incidents have been deemed group and or gang related, meaning either the victim or perpetrator is linked to group or gang activity. (Note: Gangs, by definition, have a defined leadership, colors, symbols and names shared by members. Groups are not this organized and be as simple as a band of friends or neighbors.)

Investigators stressed the importance of the community’s cooperation in catching these violent criminals.

“We cannot solve these cases alone,” said Sgt. Hiram Rivera, Violent Crimes Division. “There are people out there that we know have information, but won’t talk to us. They’ve witnessed these incidents and know who committed these crimes. If you are one of those people, we need your help.”

Rivera stressed that the first two days of any violent crime is a critical window of opportunity for police to gather intelligence that is vital to solving violent crimes. He said there are entirely too many crime scenes in which witnesses have valuable information but refuse to step forward.

“We are frustrated – we are tired – but we have not lost our determination,” Rivera said.  “We are in this job to make a difference, make our community safety for our families and yours.”

The violent crimes investigators are working around the clock to solve these cases, many only sleeping for a few hours then coming back to work. They are spending a lot of time away from their families and children to work on solving these cases.

“I am proud to stand next to these men and women who are relentlessly pursuing justice for the victims of violence within our community,” Rivera added. “I know that together we can collaborate and send a message to these violent offenders that we will hold them accountable for their actions. There are more good guys than bad guys. Please help us get these violent, gun-carrying criminals off the street. We have too many people are being shot and too many people are being killed.”