The McCormick County Sheriff’s Department, S.C., is investigating a shooting from last week that left a Dearing teen dead and two other individuals wounded.
McDuffie County Coroner Paul Johnson said Alex Eaton, 19, died from a gunshot wound. Johnson pronounced Eaton dead at 2:05 a.m. last Friday in the parking lot of a convenience store on Cobbham Road near Interstate 20.
Darius Whimper, 28, of Thomson, sustained a gunshot wound to the arm and was transported to an Augusta-area hospital by McDuffie County EMS.
A little after midnight, McDuffie County deputies, fire, and EMS responded to the parking lot at what many still refer to as Samuel’s Truck Stop. They were told two people had been shot. The gunshot victims were in a car parked on the north end of the parking lot.
Whimper was transported by ambulance and Eaton was deceased. The McDuffie County Sheriff’s Office requested assistance from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and special agents soon were on scene.
Special Agent in Charge Pat Morgan said during the investigation agents learned that Eaton had been supposedly going out toward the lake and agents learning that he went over to McCormick County. GBI reached out to McCormick County and found they were already working a shooting investigation. The two gunshot victims in McDuffie County were wounded during that shooting in McCormick County.
The McCormick County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the shooting and the GBI has assisted by processing the car the wounded men were in and conducting interviews in Georgia.
“About 11:23 on Thursday night dispatch gets a call of a gunshot wound in the Lost Wilderness Subdivision in Clarks Hill, S.C.,” said McCormick County Sheriff Clarke Stearns.
The sheriff said deputies responded and made contact with two juveniles then located a third juvenile with a gunshot wound. The wounded juvenile was air lifted by medical helicopter to an Augusta-area hospital.
“The two juveniles that remained on the scene initially indicated that there was a drive by shooting,” Stearns said.
According to the sheriff, they reported a car drove up behind them, fired shots, and then drove off. The investigation revealed it was more than just someone firing shots driving by.
“Further investigation unfolded and we found the crime scene in about the 700 block of Lost Wilderness Road where there was a shooting incident. It appears that there was gunfire from the vehicle as well as into the vehicle from one of the three juveniles,” the sheriff explained.
Of the three juveniles involved, two lived in the neighborhood and the third was visiting from Hephzibah. The juvenile who was wounded was one of the two from South Carolina. The two that remained on the scene were taken into custody.
“We got everybody identified and everybody in custody that needs to be in custody. We’re working with GBI. We’re comparing notes, we’re comparing analysis, we’re comparing everything else,” Stearns added.
“From what we can understand and what we have put together so far, after the shots were exchanged the vehicle which came over to meet these three juveniles in South Carolina then fled back across the Georgia state line and that’s where y’all found them in McDuffie County,” said the McCormick County sheriff. “Apparently there is some evidence that indicates that they had called these other guys from Georgia to come over.”
According to the sheriff, 10 shell casings were recovered from the area on Lost Wilderness Road. He said at least three shots were fired into the car because one of the McDuffie County men was struck twice and the other one once.
“So there were at least three bullets that went into the vehicle and we’re trying to determine exactly how many came from inside of the vehicle to outside of the vehicle,” Stearns explained.
The car, when found at Samuels Truck Stop, had rear end damage and appeared as if it had struck a tree.
“We photographed the crime scene, including an oak tree which was hit by a vehicle as it was fleeing,” Stearns explained.
As far as the outlook on the two hospitalized individuals, Stearns said charges will probably be pending on the juvenile and it is unknown at this time if Whimper will face charges. Both are expected to survive.