“He didn’t deserve what happened to him:” Family shares grief after teen murdered on Easter Sunday at Orangeburg hotel

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Published: Apr. 11, 2023 at 8:29 PM EDT

ORANGEBURG, S.C. (WIS) - The family of a teen who was shot and killed on Easter Sunday at an Orangeburg hotel is sharing their grief in the wake of this tragic situation.

Orangeburg County deputies say 15-year-old Dantavious Dowling, of Denmark, was gunned down at around noon.

RELATED STORY: Teen victim identified in deadly Orangeburg Easter shooting

The shooting happened at the Southern Lodge Hotel on St. Matthews Road.

Betty Jean Hightower, Dowling’s mother, said she is lost without her son and left searching for answers.

“I don’t know, I’m missing pieces of the puzzle, I don’t understand,” she said. “I really don’t know really why.”

Hightower and Dowling’s grandfather, Everette Dowling Sr., said that Dowling was an innocent bystander and had no idea that something like this was about to happen to him.

Dowling Sr. said his grandson was a giving young man.

“He was a good kid,” Hightower said. “He didn’t deserve what happened to him, and he’s going to be truly, truly missed by everyone. He was a loving person, he didn’t bother nobody. He didn’t deserve what happened to him. I’m going to say it like that. It took a whole part of my heart from me.”

Dowling was a 10th grader at Denmark-Olar High School in the Bamberg County School District.

In a statement, the district said, “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time.”

Dowling’s family has organized a GoFundMe to help pay for his funeral expenses.

The Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office said that a total of three people were shot in what’s being described as a drive-by shooting.

“This was a senseless murder on somebody that really didn’t deserve it,” Dowling Sr. said.

Hightower said Dowling’s older brother was also shot outside the hotel Sunday.

He is recovering, but broken while grappling with the loss of Tay Tay, as Dowling was known to family and friends.

Sources tell WIS that they have reason to believe this shooting may somehow be connected to the murder of another Bamberg County teen that happened last week.

The Bamberg County Sheriff’s Office has asked the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division to assist with the investigation into that shooting.

WIS asked Chandra Gibbs, the Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office’s chief of staff, about the possibility that the two shootings are linked.

“We’re taking everything into consideration,” she said. “Whatever our community is letting us know, our investigators are following every lead. As we do with every investigation, we encourage the families, we are encouraging our community, whether it’s in Denmark, whether it’s in Orangeburg County, where if they are getting information that they feel is beneficial to us getting an arrest, we want it.”

Dowling’s family is calling for peace and fewer confrontations and disagreements among the youth in the community.

“The kids that are so small, so young, they’re leaving here so they don’t even have a life yet,” Dowling Sr. said. “They haven’t even started living yet. At 15, a child shouldn’t be getting slaughtered out in the street. At 15, back in my time, the most we were doing outside was playing. And the biggest weapon, if anybody got anything, it was into a little fist fight.”

Hightower said she’s hopeful that her family will find justice.

“Finding who just drove up and killed him like that,” she said.

The Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office has not identified any suspects.

It has identified the vehicle involved in the shooting as a red 2020 Honda Accord.

Orangeburg County investigators say a red 2020 Honda Accord was used during the shooting that...
Orangeburg County investigators say a red 2020 Honda Accord was used during the shooting that took the life of 15-year-old Dantavious Dowling.(Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office)

If members of the community recognized an acquaintance not typically known to travel in a red Honda Accord, they are urged to contact the Sheriff’s Office at 803-534-3550.

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