Gang activity in South Carolina: It is a problem
The shooting that killed two Midlands men and injured three others was the fallout from a music video, the Sumter Police Department said.
A rap video titled “Boost the Murder Rate” caused tensions to boil over between rival gangs, police said in a news release.
Officers are searching for suspects in the Sunday shooting that killed Sumter residents Gregory Middleton and Michael Rogers, according to a news release. Two other men are in critical condition and remain in a Columbia hospital, while a 19-year-old was treated and released, police said.
Police are searching for three men associated with the gangs that have been called persons of interest in the shooting. All three are wanted on charges from other crimes, police said.
The shooting occurred at about 1 a.m. at The Hop In (Sunoco) Convenience Store in the 1000 block of Broad Street, according to the news release.
The convenience store/gas station is in a densely packed area near the Sumter Mall, filled with restaurants and retail businesses.
Sumter County Coroner Robbie Baker said Middleton, 30, died at the convenience store, while the Rogers, also 30, died at an area hospital.
Police spokeswoman Tonyia McGirt said a person of interest being sought in connection to the murder investigation appeared in “Boost the Murder Rate.”
The hip hop video sparked the gangs to target each other in a series of crimes, beginning with robberies before escalating to Sunday’s shooting, according to the news release.
Police said persons of interest they are searching for are Sumter residents Keyonte Markees McGee, Ellquin Carban Williams, and Devante Antonio Wilson.
“They may or may not have had a role in the shooting,” McGirt said in an interview with The State, calling the rivalry “an ongoing battle between gangs.”
The 27-year-old McGee is also wanted on a family court bench warrant, police said.
Only 18, Williams is wanted for discharging a firearm into an occupied vehicle, police said.
Wilson, 21, is wanted on multiple charges, including first-degree attempted armed robbery, and discharging a firearm into a dwelling, according to the news release.
Police are offering a reward up to $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest, as they and the coroner’s office continue to investigate.
Anyone with information is asked to call 911 or report it to CrimeStoppers at 888-CRIME-SC or submit an online tip.
Autopsies for Middleton and Rogers are scheduled for Tuesday at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, according to the coroner’s office.