By Daniel Alvarez
Early on the morning of Sept. 16 about 4:15 a.m. shots were fired at the 300 block of West 41st Street, between Montgomery and Jefferson Streets. The police responded to a neighbor’s 911 call, and found Sidon Antone James, 20, dead from gunshot wounds in the common room of the apartment house.
The night’s troubles had only just started. Police were alerted to a second shooting victim while responding to the murder at 41st Street. A few blocks away, on West 38th Street, a second body, later identified as Akeem Laurel, 27, was discovered shot to death. A passerby had noticed Laurel, also known as Kionna to those in the area about 4:30 a.m. and alerted police, who were investigating the murder up the street at West 41st Street.
Immediately after both shootings, police began investigating the crimes, questioning neighbors and friends. Several anonymous tips were called in. Ultimately, the investigation led to Anthony Bernard Morris, 44, who was found hiding behind a fence near Stephens Avenue and West 44th Street about 11 a.m. that day. Evidence on his person linked Morris to James’ shooting, resulting in his arrest and his being charged with murder.
Police report that Morris and James had known each other, and that the shooting had occurred after an altercation. The source of conflict remains unknown as of now.
“While the 41st Street homicide took place in a house known for drug activity, and some drugs were found near the body, detectives have not confirmed that drugs were involved in that shooting,” Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Public Affairs Administrator Julian Miller said.
The two crimes are being investigated as separate incidents.
“So far, violent crimes detectives have not linked the two deaths, but they haven’t confirmed that they could not be related, either,” said Miller.
The two shootings occurred several blocks away from SCAD’s Barnard Village student residence hall, located at 3121 Barnard St. While crime in Savannah is not unheard of, this incident raises questions of safety for SCAD’s student body.
“It’s a little freaky and unsettling,” said Hannah Orlet-Mueller, a first-year film and television major from Belleville, Illinois. “I wouldn’t walk at night by myself, and as long as I stick to well-lit areas, I imagine I’ll be fine. I feel safe on campus.”
Even so, Orlet-Mueller, like many other students, had already taken precautionary steps upon her arrival to Savannah.
“I actually do have pepper spray,” she said. “My dad got it for me.”
SCAD security advises students to stay in groups in well-lit areas if walking after dark. They may also call 912–525–RIDE for bus or shuttle rides at night after normal bus hours are over. Rides will pick up and transport students to and from their residences, regardless of whether or not they live on campus.
Contact Daniel Alvarez.