Police say woman's boyfriend fatally shot ex-boyfriend during home invasion

The apartment where the shooting occurred. (Source: Carolyn Callahan)
The apartment where the shooting occurred. (Source: Carolyn Callahan)

COLUMBIA, SC (AP) - Columbia Police say a man was fatally shot by his ex-girlfriend's boyfriend after he broke into her apartment Sunday night.

Police say just before midnight Sunday, the woman's former boyfriend, 26-year-old Roderick Eugene Harris, Jr., broke into an apartment on Randall Avenue Extension. The woman told investigators she had recently broken up with Harris and he was threatening to physically harm her and her current boyfriend.

"They both describe the deceased man as grabbing the female, yelling at her, screaming at her and she was very frightened for her life," said CPD spokesperson Jennifer Timmons. "When the two individuals exchanged words, that's when the deceased man is accused of lunging and charging at the current boyfriend and the shooting occurred."

The woman told police the two men argued, and the current boyfriend pulled a gun and shot Roderick as he charged him.

Richland County Coroner Gary Watts said Harris died just after 12:30 a.m. Monday from complication of a gunshot wound to the upper body. 

Police say the gunman initially left the scene, but later turned himself into police and is cooperating with investigators. After discussing the case with the Fifth Circuit Solicitor's Office, police will not charge the shooter. Police say he is immune to prosecution under the Castle Doctrine.

Midlands attorney and state Rep. Todd Rutherford has tried a case in Richland County where his client used the Castle Doctrine and was not charged. He says this case is another example of the law working.

"If someone is protecting their girlfriend from this thug, this person who has kicked in their door, this person that has broken in to their home and is threatening their girlfriend's life, or their life, they have a right to defend themselves. They have a duty to defend themselves," said Rutherford.

Rutherford believes justice is being served by not charging the shooter.

"In this case, the boyfriend defended himself, he defended the life of his girlfriend, defended his own life, and in doing so, unfortunately took a life," said Rutherford.

Even though the shooter does not live in the apartment, Rutherford says the Castle Doctrine is valid because it is his girlfriend's home and he has a right to defend her. According to Rutherford, that makes it as if it is the shooter's home as well.

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