By Dave Oedel
Memorial Day weekend this year in Middle Georgia will not only invite recall of the nation’s fallen veterans. Two fresh casualties of civilian gun violence in Middle Georgia are now associated with Memorial Day 2015 – two African-American women.
On Friday, May 22, 2015 at 316 West Thomas Street in Milledgeville, Jaquisha Smith and her mother were both shot. Jaquisha Smith later died of multiple wounds to her chest and arm at Oconee Regional Medical Center.
Early the next morning in Macon, La’Smockie Fountain, 30, was found dead, with a gunshot wound to her head, behind the home of her grandmother at 3565 Case Street south of Mumford Road in Macon. Fountain’s grandmother heard two gunshots about 5:30 in the morning of May 23, 2015, and soon after found Fountain’s body behind the home.
Derrick Booze, 38, who had previously been Fountain’s boyfriend, is being sought in connection with Fountain’s death. Booze was already wanted for carrying and brandishing a gun despite the fact that he is a convicted felon, and as such is prohibited from gun carry. Booze’s mugshot accompanies this article. Fountain secured a protective order against Booze in 2014 from Bibb County Superior Court.
Smith’s assailant has not yet been officially identified.
The Violence Policy Center in Washington DC issued a report in 2012 studying 2010 data on female victims of murder at the hands of males. The Center found that 94 percent of females murdered by men nationwide, and 97 percent in Georgia, were killed by men whom the victims knew well, and with whom the victims may have had a significant and intimate relationship.
Guns were used in Georgia murders by men of women in 61 percent of the incidents, with knives or blunt objects accounting for the other murder weapons.
African Americans constituted 50 percent of Georgia’s female murder victims at male hands in 2010, according to the Violence Policy Center, though African Americans were only about 30 percent of Georgia’s population.
In short, African-American women in Georgia are at an unusually high risk for murder by gun-carrying men whom the women know well, often intimately.
Although the Violence Policy Center did not specifically analyze the marital status of the female victims, it seems likely based on general demographic data that the great majority of the women killed by men, at least among African-American victims in Middle Georgia, were not married to their killers, despite typically having close or intimate relations with their killers. Although the national rate of babies born to unmarried women is about 41 percent, the rate of births to unmarried African-American women in Georgia overall in 2013 was 70.5 percent. That compares with a rate of 28.1 percent of babies born to unwed white women in Georgia. Most African-American women in Georgia bearing babies, and hence having intimate nonmarital relations with men, are unmarried.
Such information is no consolation to the loved ones of Jaquisha Smith and La’Smockie Fountain, or to either woman, may they rest in peace, but may be useful to other women, police and legislators going forward in their personal and collective attempts to reduce the high rates of violent crime in Middle Georgia.
For individual women, one message might be to stay clear of intimate nonmarital relationships with men who should not be carrying guns. If a guy packs concealed heat without a valid permit, for instance, a lady-friend might make clear that such a guy shouldn’t get any of the more loving kind of heat.
For police, one message might be to concentrate on stripping guns from men who should not be carrying guns, like Booze, who is a convicted felon.
For legislators, one message might be to stop incentives for women to bear children out of wedlock, in part because the lack of a marital relationship may increase the risk of jealousies later developing among men with whom the women become intimate, in turn raising the risk of violent deaths to the women.