Greenview shooting victim planned to leave town for a new career

nophillips@thestate.comNovember 18, 2013 

Friday night was a time for goodbyes in the Greenview neighborhood.

The goodbyes were supposed to be the happy kind. The kind where a young man leaves his old neighborhood to start a new path with the promise to be back.

But the Friday-night farewell for 21-year-old Nathaniel McKelvin III, a third-generation Greenview resident, became final when he died in a hail of gunfire at a friend’s house.

McKelvin had just earned his commercial driver’s license and was to start training Monday for a new truck-driving job in Georgia, said his aunt, Reginna McKelvin Hall.

“My nephew was excited about getting his license,” Hall said. “He was leaving Sunday and he wouldn’t be back for a while.”

McKelvin was killed Friday during a violent 24 hours in Columbia and Richland County. He was one of two people killed in the city. A third was killed in the county. Three others in the city were wounded in shootings. No arrests have been made.

McKelvin was hit with multiple gunshots while sitting on the porch of a home in the 700 block of Martha Street. According to a Columbia Police Department incident report, two unidentified men approached the house and began shooting. Multiple people hanging out at the house scattered as they tried to avoid the bullets. Two others were hit but survived.

The shooters ran to a car parked near Martha and Rosebud streets. A resident saw them drive away in a black sedan and followed them to I-20 to get a license plate number, the report said.

The McKelvin family has lived in Greenview since the late 1950s when Nathaniel McKelvin Sr. bought a house on Cindy Drive, near Greenview Park, Hall said. She and her brother, Nathaniel McKelvin Jr., grew up there.

As an adult, McKelvin Jr. moved into a house next door to his parents with his wife and children. He died of cancer when his son, McKelvin III, was 3 weeks old. But his wife, Roberta Gory-McKelvin, stayed to be with her in-laws who were active in raising their grandchildren, Hall said.

“When his dad passed away, his mother said she would not bring anyone else into the home or put someone else over her kids,” Hall said.

Greenview, off Farrow Road in the northern part of the city, was established in the 1950s as a subdivision for the city’s middle class African-American community. When the community began experiencing problems as older residents passed away and outsiders moved in, residents rallied to make improvements, including convincing Sheriff Leon Lott to send his deputies to patrol the area even though it is within city limits.

The community is known for being tight-knit, and McKelvin was well-known because of his family, Hall said.

Gory-McKelvin was a hands-on parent, volunteering at Greenview Park and in her children’s classrooms. McKelvin has two sisters, Chantal McKelvin, 26, and JonQuel Jackson McKelvin, 32.

At Keenan High, McKelvin played on the football team’s offensive line. After graduating from high school in 2010, McKelvin worked at Kroger on Two Notch Road. He took classes at Midlands Tech but college really wasn’t for him, his aunt said.

He had a run-in with police in 2011 when he was pulled over for a traffic violation and police found a gun in his car. He was arrested on a misdemeanor for unlawful carrying of a weapon and paid a fine, according to court records.

Hall said the family was disappointed, especially his grandfather, who told his grandson, “You can do better.”

The younger McKelvin earned his commercial driver’s license because he wanted to do something different and earn money to help his mother, Hall said.

On Friday night, McKelvin went to a friend’s house on Martha Street to get a haircut from a friend and to hang out with neighborhood buddies, Hall said. He was friends with one of the men who was shot but did not know the other, she said. “I won’t even say he was in the wrong place because those were the people he thought were his friends. He grew up with those people.”

Shortly after shots rang out, someone called McKelvin’s sister, Chantal McKelvin, to tell her that he had been shot. His sister, mother and grandparents raced the few blocks to Martha Street. It was too late. McKelvin died from gunshots to his upper body before police and EMS arrived, according to police and Richland County coroner’s reports.

Columbia police investigators have not named any suspects or determined the circumstances that led to the shootings, said Jennifer Timmons, a police spokeswoman.

McKelvin’s funeral will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at First Nazareth Baptist Church.

Her nephew’s killers have taken someone who was precious to his family, Hall said. “They don’t value anybody’s life,” she said. “When you kill somebody you don’t just take away their life, you take away a part of a whole family’s life.”

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