ROCK HILL -- Police say a dispute over a real estate deposit led an 88-year-old Rock Hill man to shoot the manager of a realty office Wednesday afternoon, police said.
Richard Blow Sr. is charged with assault and battery with intent to kill and possession of a firearm during a violent crime after police say he shot Jerry O'Neill, 68, the manager at Coldwell Banker United Realtors on Ebenezer Road, around 2:20 p.m.
O'Neill was shot in the lower abdomen, police said. He was airlifted to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, where Coldwell spokeswoman Kim Cox said he was undergoing surgery Wednesday night. He is listed in critical condition this morning.
About 10 people were inside the building at the time of the shooting, but no one else was hurt, said Rock Hill police Lt. Michael Belk. It's unclear whether the shooter said anything to O'Neill before firing, he said.
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“There had been kind of an ongoing dispute, and … he (Blow) showed up today,” Belk said Wednesday afternoon outside the office as investigators worked.
Cox said none of the agents in the office saw the shooting. She said she didn't know the details of the alleged dispute about the deposit, also known as earnest money.
O'Neill has worked at the office for several months, she said.
“It's so random and it's so shocking,” Cox said, adding that O'Neill is known for his friendly nature. “He is all about the customer, and he is all about trying to make things right.”
Cox said the office would be open for business at 9 a.m today.
Police received two calls from the Coldwell office, the first coming when the shooter showed up. The second call came after the shooting.
“They called and said … we've got a guy here with a gun,” Belk said. “We were basically en route, and they called back and said he had shot someone.”
Blow was still in the parking lot when police arrived, and he surrendered without incident, Belk said.
Blow, an author and former semi-pro baseball player, has written at least seven books. He was profiled in a 2001 Herald story about his baseball and writing careers.
“Pitched against Joe DiMaggio when he was in the service, and I said to him, ‘Joe, I can throw it past you.' Well, on the first pitch he hit it so hard it would have torn off my head if I hadn't ducked,” Blow said then.
Blow didn't become a published author until age 70, but he said in the 2001 interview that he'd written short stories and poetry all his life.
“I have 23 books in progress, and there's no time to be wasting,” Blow said in 2001. “I figure I'll live to be at least 100 and probably older than that. I've done plenty in this life, but I've got a lot to do yet.”
A man who answered the door at Blow's Ragin Lane house Wednesday afternoon described himself as a family friend and said he was surprised by the charges against Blow.
The man, who did not want to be identified, called Blow a “very likeable guy” and said they both attended Rock Hill's Oakland Baptist Church. He said church members were trying to find the best way to help Blow's wife, Jean, deal with the situation.
Blow was being held Wednesday night at the Rock Hill Jail. A bond hearing is set for this morning.