20 indicted in Walterboro gang roundup - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

20 indicted in Walterboro gang roundup

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Twenty people have been indicted in a crackdown on gang violence in a town near South Carolina's coast, authorities said Wednesday.

South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster announced the indictments during a news conference in Walterboro, a town of 5,800 in Colleton County just off Interstate 95, about halfway between Columbia and Charleston.

Seven of the people indicted are charged in a November drive-by shooting that killed three people — among them a 20-month-old toddler — and injured several others. Relatives said the victims were playing cards in the front yard of a small beige bungalow when a car pulled up and opened fire. The baby's mother was shot but survived, unsuccessfully using her own body to shield her child.

Days later, two more people were injured in a shooting several blocks from the triple slaying.

The horrific scene prompted local and state officials into action. South Carolina's state police force arrived in Walterboro, organizing patrols that placed the sparsely populated county under a virtual lockdown.

But the violence continued. In January, a woman survived a drive-by shotgun blast as she sat on a couch inside her home. A state lawmaker introduced legislation that would have made the death penalty a possibility for people convicted of fatal drive-by shootings.

State police opened a permanent office in Walterboro in May, the same month Mayor Bill Young said the town had hired an image consultant after officials began fielding calls from people wondering if the area were safe.

The indictments, which were unsealed Tuesday, charge Courtney Denard Singleton and 18 others with being members of two area gangs.

Seven of the alleged Sand Hill gang members — Danziel Akeem Chapman, Laron Bennett, Shaquille O'Neal Drayton, Latrell Bernard Fryar, Deshuan Quatrell Holmes, Gregory Lamar Middleton and Phillip Dustin Singleton — are also charged with murder in the triple shooting.

Seven other alleged Sand Hill members — Elijiah Deal, Quinton John Fishburne, Vera Ford, Amani Sherell Hills, Preston Tremaine Roberts, Haskell Jevor Simmons and Phyllis Elaine Simmons — are charged with knowing about the shooting, lying to police.

Another alleged member is a juvenile whose charges were not listed. Deal, Drayton, Fryar and Roberts are also charged with setting a car on fire.

In a separate indictment, four men — Kaylon Ramar Aiken, Derrick Eleazor, Quoteas Sylvester Nesbitt and Terrance White — are charged with being part of the Dooley Hill gang, as well as several assault and weapons crimes.

Those charged were expected to have a bond hearing Thursday in Columbia. It was not immediately clear how many of the 20 had been arrested Wednesday or if they had attorneys.

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