Associate pastor accused in fatal shooting acted in self-defense - - Columbia, South Carolina

Associate pastor accused in fatal shooting acted in self-defense, solicitor says

Gene Autrey Morris, Jr. (Source: Richland County) Gene Autrey Morris, Jr. (Source: Richland County)

The man accused of fatally shooting another at Finlay Park over the Memorial Day weekend was cleared of any wrongdoing and acted in self-defense, according to the Fifth Circuit Solicitor's Office.

Gene Autrey Morris, Jr., 22, was arrested following the death of Laron Martin, 37.

Morris, according to investigators, brought a gun to the park without a permit and got into an argument with Martin. Martin was shot and later succumbed to his injuries.

Authorities believe Morris went out to the park after getting a phone call from two females who were allegedly being harassed by Martin. Investigators also say Morris left the scene without calling the police after the shooting. Morris's actions were determined to be self-defense and Martin approached Morris with a knife, which is why he shot him. 

"He found himself in a transformative event in Finlay Park. It was transformative for Gene and all of those involved. He feels bad that he was involved in an incident that resulted in a fatality” said attorney Jonathan Harvey.

Morris was initially charged with unlawful possession of a pistol. The solicitor's office says Morris pled guilty to that charge and was sentenced to one year in prison, which was suspended to one-year probation.

He is also an associate pastor at Second Nazareth Baptist Church.

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