Richland County sheriff speaks on separate weekend shootings

Published: Sep. 25, 2023 at 11:13 AM EDT

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott spoke on two separate shootings that happened over the weekend, including one where three teenagers died.

The Richland County Sheriff’s Department (RCSD) reported four people were shot during a shooting at the 200 block of Saddletrail Road on Sunday. Hours later, RCSD said three out of the four victims shot died at the hospital.

Richland County Coroner Naida Rutherford identified the victims Monday morning as 16-year-old Caleb Wise and Dre’Von Riley, both 16 years old, and Jakobe Fanning, 17.

“Sadly, I stand here again to talk about something that seems to be a reoccurring theme that we have, not just in Richland County, but across the nation,” said Lott as he opened up the press conference. “Hitting us hard.”

A 17-year-old was arrested and charged with three counts of murder, one count of attempted murder and possession of a weapon during a violent crime.

Sheriff Leon Lott said the shooting was over something that happened a couple of years ago.

“A beef that just continues to grow, then young people decide that they’re going to solve it by shooting,” Lott said. He didn’t give further details on what it was that happened.

Joining Lott at the press conference were Gretchen Barron, who represents District 7 on the County Council, and Rep. Kambrell Garvin (D-77), along with Richland County School District One Superintendent Dr. Craig Witherspoon.

“Here we are once again,” Barron said. “It was just a couple of months ago we talked about Meadowlake what took place at Meadowlake Park and then what took place on Parklane Road.”

“Just last year on the same street was another incident. Many people have made phone calls and made posts and said ... ‘Elected officials y’all need to do something.’ Well, we can’t legislate good behavior,” Barron continued. “We can’t legislate people making healthy choices. That’s what we have here today is that young people got guns and they made poor choices.”

The students involved attended Eau Claire High School and Alcorn Middle School, Lott confirmed.

Witherspoon said when incidents like this particular shooting happen, the district brings together their crisis team which includes counselors, mental health professionals, social workers and staff to support students and help them process what happened.

“We have to give our young people an opportunity to express their emotions to see if they are indeed alright and to let them know that sometimes it’s alright not to be alright,” Witherspoon said. “This should not be happening.”

The second shooting happened on Saturday. RCSD reported deputies were investigating a domestic violence-related shooting at the 4900 block of Hardscrabble Road that left one person dead and another hurt.

Lott said deputies found a woman — who had been assaulted by a man — inside of an apartment screaming for help.

The man, who was armed, ran onto the balcony and shot at the deputies on the scene. Deputies then returned fire but did not hit the man, according to Lott.

“He was there to kill the female,” Lott said during the press conference, “He put it in writing, and expressed that.”

The man then pointed the gun at himself and killed himself, Lott stated.

Lott praised the deputies on-scene for their quick actions.

“The individual did not die on the scene, he died later at the hospital,” Lott said. “Here’s someone who had threatened them and they worked so hard to try to save that man’s life.”

Lott said RCSD does not identify people who die by suicide.

“The lady that was assaulted that was the victim, we’re taking care of her and getting her the help that she’s got,” Lott said.

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