Columbia attorney charged with murder following shooting at downtown nightclub - - Columbia, South Carolina

Columbia attorney charged with murder following shooting at downtown nightclub

Dewain Herring Dewain Herring

(Columbia) January 30, 2006 - A Columbia attorney has been arrested and charged with murder after a shooting at a downtown Columbia nightclub left a man dead, according to Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott.

A news release states that around 12:00am, 62-year-old Dewain Herring was thrown out of Chastity's Nightclub on River Drive after he became unruly. According to incident reports, Herring was reportedly found naked in one of the champagne rooms.

Investigators say Herring then pulled a gun from his vehicle, pointed it toward the entrance and then pulled the trigger. Several customers and the manager, John Johnson of Columbia, were standing behind the wooden door. Deputies say one single bullet struck and killed Johnson.

"Mr. Johnson just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, but that still doesn't excuse Mr. Herring shooting into that door," says Sheriff Lott.

Herring fled in his vehicle, and Richland County investigators were able to track Herring to his home through the use of witness statements and evidence recovered at the scene.

At approximately 4:00am, investigators and uniformed officers knocked on the door of Herring's home, announced who they were and that they had a search warrant in hand. Herring refused to open the door. The sheriff's department forced entry into the residence through the front door, announced who they were, and Herring confronted them in the hallway.

Officers say Herring then fled to a bedroom where he drew a weapon and pointed it at the them. Herring was shot by the officers in the arm, treated for his injuries at Palmetto Health and released into the custody of the Richland County Sheriff's Department.

"The murder of Mr. Johnson is tragic and senseless, compounded by our officers being forced to use their weapons to apprehend him," said Sheriff Lott. "The Deputies acted appropriately and in defense of their lives. The officers have been returned to full duty with my thanks for putting their lives on the line to make our communities safe."

Friends of Johnson say they can hardly believe that their friend is gone.

"To see a life be taken for no reason what so ever is just tragic," says friend Edward Rothschild.

"He was the person that would do anything for you, he's a person that would shake your hand and help you if you needed anything," Rothschild goes on to say.

And while the flowers and condolences that decorate the steps of Chastity's will fade, Edward says he'll always remember.

"We'll never forget. You don't forget good people. You remember those who left an impact on your life, one way or the other, and Johnson was one of those people who left an impact on your life."

Herring, a Columbia attorney who has his own practice specializing in estate and financial planning, was married with two adult sons, according to his firm's website.

People who know Herring say they are shocked to hear the allegations against him. Everyone WIS contacted declined speaking on camera, but some did offer statements.

Richland County Probate Judge Amy McCullough said, "Dewain Herring is a well known estate and probate attorney. Reports over the weekend are tragic and extremely surprising."

Herring's Pastor Michael Bullock said, "Herring was a member of the St. Martins of the Fields Epicopal Church. We are praying for everyone involved."

A bail hearing has been set for 9:15 Wednesday morning at the Richland County courthouse before Judge Johnson.

Reported by Tamara King
Updated 5:52pm by Graeme Moore with AP

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