Crime & Courts

Shooting suspect gassed out of home

AIKEN -- An Aiken fugitive accused of shooting a 19-year-old man in the head early New Year's Day was gassed out of a York Street home late Wednesday after negotiators made several failed attempts to force his surrender.

Christopher T. Croft, 29, was arrested about 10:15 p.m.

He is charged with pointing and presenting a firearm, possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime and assault and battery with intent to kill.

Aiken Public Safety investigators developed information that the suspect was hiding out at the York Street home and made several attempts to contact the man throughout the evening.

After several hours, police blocked off parts of York Street while the standoff continued and special response team officers surrounded the home.

Sgt. Jake Mahoney said a negotiator, who could be heard speaking on a bullhorn, tried to talk with the suspect for more than an hour, but she was unable to force the sus-pect's surrender.

The officers then deployed a tear gas-like chemical into the home and forced the man out.

The suspect stumbled into police custody, coughing while trying to escape breathing in the deployed gas.

Croft and another man were both arrested.

Investigators had tried to talk to the other person at the home as well, but they were also unable to convince that person to surrender or work with the authorities.

Police did not release the other suspect's name at presstime.

At the time of the Jan. 1 shooting, witnesses who saw a gunman fire at the 19-year-old man after first firing several rounds into the air from a pump action shotgun. He then turned the weapon on the victim.

Investigators said they have linked Croft to an Oct. 8, 2008, gun crime when the sus-pect held his cousin at gunpoint during an argument and threatened to shoot him.

-- Aiken Standard, McClatchy-Tribune Regional News