Racial tensions run high in Newberry Co. following gruesome murder - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Racial tensions run high in Newberry Co. following gruesome murder

By Darragh Copley - email

NEWBERRY, SC (WIS) - Racial tensions run high in Newberry County as the investigation continues in the death of Anthony Hill. On June 2, deputies determined Hill was first shot to death before being dragged for miles behind a pickup truck.

While Gregory Collins sits in jail charged with Hill's murder, a community gathered Thursday to understand why Collins has not been charged with a hate crime.

The question most asked in the meeting is what defines a hate crime. It's when someone is killed because of their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or disability and right now, Bill Nettles with the U.S. Attorney General's Office says he will make the decision when the investigation is complete.

Emotions filled the small auditorium at Newberry County High School, especially for Anthony Hill's family. "I just want peace right now for the murder of my husband, and I have two kids that need their dad right now," said Hill's wife. "I hope his family are suffering like me and my kids."

"We're just a grieving a family that wants justice," said Hill's sister-in-law.

"I know justice will be done, you being in the hands of the law or the Lord," said Hill's cousin .
    
The panel made up of police, Nettles, and a minister continued to remind the family and the audience that you can't rush justice. After the meeting, people had differing opinions.

"There's rumor, there's a lot of tension," said ElMurray Bookman . "You can feel it."

"I feel it," added Steve Booknight . "I think it's a hate crime, the way he was drug this is a hate crime."

"It's not about race of the man, I just see the fact the man was killed right in my neighborhood," said man that lives on the street where Hill's body was found.

"It's going to start with us as Newberry citizens to work together to get us all through this," said one woman who attended the meeting.

"The fact that there are racial problems in the city, county, and the state, that was not really addressed," said Bookman.

It's important to remember that murder in South Carolina is the state's highest offense. Sheriff Lee Foster says there are no state laws defining a hate crime. If the investigation determines Hill's death is a hate crime, Gregory Collins will face federal charges.

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