A white woman in Columbia, South Carolina was found guilty of attempted murder on Monday (May 24) after shooting into her Black and Hispanic neighbors’ home while yelling racial slurs. The woman, Mandy Morrow Fortson, was sentenced to 20 years in prison in connection with the February 2017 shooting.
According to a report by WIS 10 News, Fortson, 48, repeatedly fired her weapon into one of her neighbor’s homes while the family sat down for dinner. Court documents show that Fortson then fired into her other neighbor’s home as they prepared for bed. Evidence presented during the trial shows Fortson fired from her backyard a total of six times before reloading.
A Black man came outside to ask Fortson to stop shooting her gun into people’s houses when she turned the gun on him, shooting him in the hip and wrist. In court, witnesses testified that Fortson yelled racial slurs while firing her weapon.
After a week-long trial, a jury found Fortson guilty on several charges including attempted murder, discharging a firearm into a dwelling, and breach of peace. Judge Robert Hood sentenced to Fortson to 15 years in prison for the attempted murder charge and five years for the other charges, to be served consecutively.
Community advocates are calling on state lawmakers to create hate crime legislation. Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott told The State, Fortson’s actions justify getting a hate crime law on the books in South Carolina.
“This shows the need for a hate crime law,” Lott, whose department led the investigation of the shooting, said. “A hate crime law would have allowed the judge to enhance her sentence.”
Legislators in the South Carolina House passed a hate crime law but the state’s Senate adjourned for the year before bringing the bill to the floor. Earlier this year, South Carolina’s neighboring state Georgia passed a hate crime law following the killing of Ahmaud Arbery in February 2020.
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