Crime & Courts

4 were killed over drugs, including a toddler, SC sheriff says. 5 more are charged

Surveillance video reveals beating by double homicide suspects

Richland County Sheriff's Department held a press conference November 13 about charging the suspects of a double homicide.
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Richland County Sheriff's Department held a press conference November 13 about charging the suspects of a double homicide.

Two separate incidents that left four people dead and one seriously injured are connected by “young people with guns who have a total disregard for life,” Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said.

Five people, including three teenagers, have been charged in the two double-homicides, Lott announced at a Tuesday afternoon news conference.

Both of the incidents started as marijuana-related robberies, Lott said.

“I know that there’s a lot of national conversation about marijuana and it doesn’t hurt anyone,” Lott said. These four killings indicate otherwise, he said.

Lott announced the arrests of Choatte Neal III, 21, and Micah Brown, 19, in last week’s double homicide on Whispering Pines Road in which a man and woman were shot and beaten. Both are charged with two counts of murder. The dead were identified as Brennan M. Montgomery, 25, and Jasmine Richardson, 24, both of Hopkins.

Montgomery died from gunfire and Richardson from the beating, Richland County Coroner Gary Watts said.

A third victim, bleeding from gunshot wounds, crawled to a neighbor’s porch, but the two attackers returned to the scene, Lott said. Video shows that they kicked the man in the body and head, whipping and stabbing him with what Lott suspects are tree limbs.

The victim is hospitalized and in “very serious” condition, the sheriff said.

A camera on the porch where the man was beaten helped investigators identify Brown and Neal, Lott said. The two also knew the victims.

Additional charges are pending in the assault and shooting of the third victim, Lott said.

Lott on Tuesday also announced the arrests of three people in the September shooting deaths of 23-year-old James Antheny McDowell and his 1-year-old son, Tyreen.

DyQuan King, 17, Markelyis Gibson, 16, and Traevon Ray, 20, were charged with murder in the killing of the father and son. King and Gibson also face weapons possession charges.

On Sept. 30 deputies were called to an apartment on Beatty Downs Road in the St. Andrews area. A neighbor heard gunshots and McDowell’s cries for help and called 911, an investigator said. Police found McDowell shot outside in front of the home and his son dead from a bullet inside. McDowell died while being taken to the hospital.

The sheriff said he didn’t have words to describe the shooting death of 1-year-old Tyreen.

“This was not an accidental shooting,” he said. “People knew what they were doing.”

King is among three teenagers charged in another shootout last month that killed a 58-year-old man who was taking his trash out at an apartment complex off Broad River Road. The man was caught in the crossfire. King was one of the trigger men in that shooting, Lott said.

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“Last week I stood here disgusted,” Lott said on Tuesday, referencing the 58-year-old man’s killing at the apartment complex. “I stand here today more disgusted.”

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He blamed “young people with guns who do not care, that’s what we have in our community,” he continued. “We need to stop this.”

David Travis Bland @dtravisbland

James Antheny McDowell and his son, Tyreen, were shot and killed inside their apartment on Beatty Downs Road in Columbia.

David Travis Bland won the South Carolina Press Association’s 2017 Judson Chapman Award for community journalism. As The State’s crime, police and public safety reporter, he strives to inform communities about crimes that affect them and give deeper insight into victims, the accused and law enforcement. He studied history with a focus on the American South at the University of South Carolina.