GREENVILLE, SC The Greenville County Sheriff’s Office is not ruling out charges being filed in connection with the fatal shooting Saturday at an Altamont Road estate but is refusing to answer questions about the case and denied the newspaper’s request to view the public incident report and to listen to the 911 call made from the residence reporting an intruder until a decision is made.
Allen Stephenson, founder of the upscale casual clothing company Southern Tide, has said through his attorney that he shot Matthew Whitman, 32, when Whitman attacked him with a knife after being warned repeatedly to leave the gated Paris Mountain property.
The Sheriff’s Office did not release Stephenson’s name, saying he may be found to have been the victim in the incident and as such his identity would be protected.
“As of this date, this case is active and being investigated by our office,” Deputy Michael Douglas said in an email Wednesday to The Greenville News. “Charges are still undetermined.
“Please note that due to the position and nature of this case, our office will not be releasing any further information until decisions have been made regarding formal charges.”
The newspaper has submitted a request under the state Freedom of Information Act for a copy of the incident report and the 911 recording, and posed a number of questions about details of the incident that remain unanswered. Sheriff Steve Loftis also has denied a request for an interview on the case.
Coroner Parks Evans would say only that Whitman died of “multiple” gunshot wounds and his body was found in the yard of the residence, 20-30 feet from a century old dwelling that has been described as a “castle.” Toxicology tests have not been completed, he said.
Whitman lived about 1.5 miles away in a small trailer, just below an upscale subdivision on the edge of Piney Mountain.
Whitman's family issued a statement through an attorney Thursday, saying they don't know why he was on the Altamont Road property and that he was not a violent person.
"Matt Whitman was a brilliant, loving, kind and gentle son, brother and uncle, and our family is heartbroken by our loss of him," the family said through attorney David R. Price. "While we do not know why Matt was on that property on Saturday, he did not have a criminal record and we have never observed him being violent or threatening to any person.
"We therefore trust and expect that law enforcement will thoroughly investigate the circumstances that led to Matt’s death at the hands of another person. We ask that the public respect our family’s privacy during this time of tremendous grief."
Whitman died of shotgun wounds to the torso, according to the coroner, who listed the manner of death as homicide. He estimated the time of death at 9:30 a.m.
A check of State Law Enforcement Division records turned up nothing on Whitman.