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Columbus County law enforcement addresses Green Acres crime

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TABOR CITY, NC (WWAY) -- The Columbus County community of Green Acres used to be the place to be. After two men killed each other Thursday morning local law enforcement spoke out about crime in Green Acres, and how it quickly became one of the most dangerous areas in the county.

"Back in 1973 when I first came to Columbus County, Green Acres was being formed at that time and there was some good Christian people living at Green Acres,” said Tabor City Police Chief Donald Dowless.

But according to Chief Dowless and Columbus County Sheriff Chris Batten over the years things have gone downhill for the once quiet community.

"You know there are a lot of good people in there,” said Columbus County Sheriff Chris Batten. “There's probably 25 households throughout the whole community right there off of 904 and you've just got three or four households there that make the whole community appear bad."

Sheriff Batten says 163 Pine Circle Drive was supposed to be one of the good homes, but that changed in an instant when James Soles and his 16-year-old stepson Gregory McKinnies shot one another.

"We hadn't ever had any complaints on that particular location,” said Batten. “It was just a blow up between a stepfather and a stepson."

To minimize the “blow ups” that investigators generally start over drugs it takes multiple agencies working in tandem due to the community’s unusual location.

"The Green Acres property butts right up with the South Carolina border, and it makes it a challenge because everybody can just shoot right out the backside and go into Loris,” said Batten.

But the secluded area that surrounds Green Acres also has its advantages in the fight against crime.

"We did a round-up with some federal charges,” said Batten. “Being so isolated we were able to focus on those communities and get some of the bad people out of them."

"We've been able to calm it down by sending several to prison,” said Dowless. “I will say in the last two years we've had very little interaction with Green Acres."

Unlike the problems in Wilmington both Sheriff Batten and Chief Dowless say that they don’t believe there is a gang problem in Columbus County.

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