A bus stop fight over "teenage drama" and a massive brawl precipitated the spray of bullets that killed 17-year-old Amon Rice and injured another teen last month, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said Thursday.
"It started with teenage drama and escalated to death," Lott said of the fight that prompted the deadly May 10 gun battle outside a Hopkins church. So far, 22 people — including several juveniles — have been charged in what Lott said is the largest homicide case his office has worked, in terms of the number of arrests for a single killing.
During Thursday's news conference, the sheriff showed videos of the large brawl, where two groups of people slugged it out as witnesses stood by with cameras during Eastover's Mayfest.
After the fight was over, the two groups agreed to meet up in the parking lot of Unity Missionary Baptist Church on May 10 to settle the argument. Both groups came armed, and the spray of nearly 60 bullets left Rice mortally wounded and another juvenile injured.
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Rice, who played basketball at Lower Richland High School, died two days later. Lott said he and the other juvenile were not the intended targets, but rather were hit in the barrage of bullets.
Rice was among those who were armed, Lott said. However, it was unclear if he fired any shots during the mayhem.
Investigators could not determine whose gun fired the fatal shot, but Lott said anyone who was determined to have had a gun during the shootout was charged with murder.
"Everybody who was involved in this needs to be held accountable," the sheriff said. "... I wanted us to send a message to these people in our community who are living and dying by the guns that we're not going to allow this in Richland County."
Social media videos of the fight and the shooting, along with posts about plans to meet up for the gun battle, helped investigators piece together the deadly series of events and identify those involved, Lott said. A video taken at the church that showed Rice being shot was helpful to investigators; however, Lott declined to play it during Thursday's news conference.
"We're very fortunate that we didn't have more people shot and killed," he said, noting people were inside the church and out in the neighborhood when the shooting happened.
Isaiah Shakur Sims, 19, was wanted on a charge of accessory before the fact to murder at the time of the conference, according to the Sheriff's Department. He was located and arrested Thursday, police said.
The brawl and deadly shootout followed a dispute at Lower Richland High School between one of the suspects, Kerria Davenport, and friends of Rice, which led to a confrontation near the Davenport family home, officials have said.
"He was helping a little boy in the ninth grade," Antrinette Le’teas Means, Rice’s mother, told The State after the shooting. "He kept telling him, ‘You got to stand up.' ... He was telling them [the ridiculers], ‘You can’t fight this little boy.’”
Shytori Nikia Davenport, 21, was the first arrest made in the case on charges of murder and possession of a weapon during a violent crime.
Late last month, 40-year-old Winyah Nynete Gaither and her two daughters, 25-year-old Kieauna Shykeria Davenport and 18-year-old Kerria Darnashia Davenport, were arrested on charges including murder, possession of a weapon during a violent crime and accessory.
After that, four more were arrested on accessory charges: 39-year-old Sandarrell Davenport, 40-year-old Alphonso Squire, 17-year-old Keonta Robinson and 21-year-old Mikoyah Harvin. Squire also is charged with obstruction.
Then, earlier this month, investigators arrested:
- Jordan Terrell Myer, 20
- Kenneth Roger Robinson Jr., 18
- Jewayne Marquise Price, 18
- Twana Ivery, 39
- Thaiyeah Keisha Keel, 18
- Jada Mahogan'e Price, 16
- Amaya Ty'Rian Roberts, 16
- Two unnamed minors
The newest arrests, announced Thursday, were: 19-year-old Alton Treyon Brasley Jr., 19-year-old Tyran Khalil Rush, 18-year-old Tony Lamont Gunter and 17-year-old Jahara Johnson. All four are charged with accessory before the fact to murder.
"We've got parents involved in this," Lott said, dismayed at the ages of those involved. "We've got a parent who came to the gunfight with a gun and shot it."
The juvenile who was injured is among those charged, Lott said.
Travis Bland contributed to this report.