In the aftermath of a tense, late-season basketball game between rival high schools, one student was stabbed to death and another was arrested in this town’s first homicide in more than two decades.
Lexington High School 2013 graduate Kierin Marcellus Dennis, 18, was arrested Tuesday by the Lexington Police Department, charged with murder and possession of a deadly weapon during the commission of a violent crime.
He is charged in the stabbing death of Dutch Fork High School senior and former football player Da’Von Nathaniel Capers, 17, of Irmo.
The stabbing occurred less than an hour after Dutch Fork had come-from-behind to win by five on Lexington’s home court and less than a month since the two teams met on the court in Irmo. Following that Jan. 24 game, Lexington fans said they felt unsafe as the Dutch Fork crowd grew out of control after the victory and prevented Wildcat players and fans from exiting.
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Tensions were again high during Monday’s game, with one Lexington High School student holding a sign that said, “ThugFork.” After the game, Dutch Fork students were escorted from the gym to their cars in the parking lot by police. The police ensured that Dutch Fork students left by one exit, and that Lexington High students left by another. Lexington County sheriff’s deputies were near both schools’ student sections.
According to Lexington Police, a verbal altercation between the teenagers started a short time later near the popular Cook-Out restaurant on Lexington’s West Main Street. The altercation turned physical, and Capers was stabbed. He was first transported to Urgent Care, and then to the Lexington Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Interviews with witnesses lasted into the early-morning hours Tuesday. Around lunchtime on Tuesday, police announced Dennis’ arrest. At his first court appearance on Tuesday afternoon, no bond was set for Dennis, but an April 17 court date was.
District Five Superintendent Stephen Hefner on Tuesday morning released a statement that read, in part: “Our thoughts and condolences go out to the student’s family as law enforcement officials continue their investigation into his untimely death.”
Law enforcement officers were in greater presence on both campuses Tuesday, and counselors were on-hand to speak with students who were struggling with the situation.
Many members of the Dutch Fork community gathered Tuesday night for another basketball game — this one at home against North Augusta with a region title on the line.
Cheerleaders for the Silver Foxes had Capers’ No. 48 football number marked on their arms and cheeks. The Dutch Fork mascot was wearing a No. 48 jersey, and students signed it. A moment of silence was held before the teams’ girls game, and several of the Dutch Fork girls basketball players and cheerleaders fought back tears.
On Twitter, Capers described himself as “just a young dude living life” and added “small city big dreams.” Early Tuesday, his Twitter feed had messages like “RIP Cape” and “I know you’re still there because it’s all a dream,”
Only three days ago, Capers had tweeted, “Blessed to see another day.”
The Lexington Police Department is asking anyone with any information about this case to contact the Lexington Police Department at 359-6260 or Crimestoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC.