GREENVILLE, SC Allen Stephenson, the founder of a clothing company that has been ranked by Forbes Magazine as one of the most promising companies in America, was the homeowner who shot and killed an alleged intruder at his Altamont Road home on Saturday, according to an attorney for the young entrepreneur.
The victim in the fatal shooting has been identified as Matthew Whitman, 32, of Nature Trail, Greenville.
Deputy William Douglas, a spokesman for the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office, said the incident is still under investigation and additional details had not been released by late Tuesday.
The Greenville News has submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for a copy of the incident report and recording of the 911 call.
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The Sheriff’s Office had refused to release the identity of the shooter pending the outcome of the investigation, saying that since the investigation may determine him to be the victim, his identity would be shielded.
Coroner Parks Evans initially released an incorrect address in his media release on the death, and the Sheriff’s Office did not release the address, only that it was in the 200 block, when it first put out word about the shooting.
Attorney Sloan P. Ellis identified Stephenson as the homeowner involved. He told The Greenville News that Stephenson is the founder of Southern Tide, which manufactures high-end polo shirts and other garments.
In a statement, Ellis said Stephenson was attacked at his home by a man he didn’t know.
“After repeated requests by Mr. Stephenson, the individual, later identified as Mr. Whitman, would not leave. Instead, he became hostile, and attacked Mr. Stephenson with a knife.
“Mr. Stephenson had no alternative but to defend himself with his shotgun,” the statement says.
The autopsy showed that "multiple" shots had been fired, but the coroner said he couldn't say how many or where the wounds were while the investigation is ongoing. Toxicology tests were done but the results are not complete, he said.
A witness called the Sheriff’s Office, and Stephenson “has cooperated fully with the authorities and will continue to do so,” the attorney's statement says.
“At this time, we have no information on Mr. Whitman or his motives,” the statement says. “Mr. Stephenson appreciates the many calls of concern he has received, but would appreciate everyone respecting his privacy at this time.”
Southern Tide’s chief executive officer, Christopher Heyn, also issued a statement outlining generally the same scenario but adding that law enforcement was called “while the incident was in process.”
“Stephenson made several attempts to get the trespasser to leave his property peacefully,” it said.
“We are relieved and thankful that Allen is O.K.,” Heyn said.
According to Greenville County property tax records, Stephenson’s home sits on 30.9 acres and is valued at $1.35 million.
On a real estate website called OldHouseDreams.com, the house is described as a castle, built in 1902 for a German baroness and modeled after a castle on the Rhine.
It’s not visible from Altamont Road, which is about 700 feet away through a wooded area.
Southern Tide, founded in 2006, is a “lifestyle apparel brand that boasts exceptional craftsmanship and classic design,” a press release from the company says.
The company is best known for its Skipjack polo shirt. Its products are available in more than 975 specialty retailers in more than 45 states and online, it says.
In a 2014 interview with The Greenville News, Stephenson said he quit college after he was inspired by a trip to Italy to develop the “best classic polo ever made.”
He started the business at home, working with his mother to design shirts that he had to give away to stores at first to get them interested, he said at the time.
He had 5,500 shirts made without having a retail outlet to sell them.
“I wouldn’t have done all these risky things if I didn’t think this would work,” he said in the interview.