Search for alleged gunman in attempted drive-by continues

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Search for alleged gunman in attempted drive-by continues

By PATRICK DONOHUE
pdonohue@beaufortgazette.com
843-706-8152
Published Wednesday, July 20, 2011   |  639 Words  |  

Police say they are still unsure why a 17-year-old Beaufort man opened fire on a group of men playing basketball Tuesday afternoon near the Charles Lind Brown Activity Center.

As Beaufort police continue their search for the alleged gunman, Joshua Isaac Oliver of Washington Street, a county employee says the staff that runs a summer camp at the center did all it could to keep children safe. He called the incident a one-time occurrence.

Investigators are trying to piece together what happened at an outdoor basketball court at the intersection of Greene and Hamar streets.

Oliver was identified Tuesday as the one who used a 9 mm pistol to fire at least three shots from a car toward the court, investigators said. After the shots, police say, Oliver sped off in a vehicle driven by a 15-year-old girl who stole the handgun from a relative.

No injuries were reported.

The vehicle was later found, and the girl was sent to the Department of Juvenile Justice in Columbia, police say.

A 16-year-old girl also in the vehicle at the time of the shooting is believed to have been merely a passenger, said Police Chief Matt Clancy.

The shooting occurred across the street from the activity center where Beaufort County Parks and Leisure Services hosts an annual children's summer camp. The center also is home to a public pool visited by hundreds of area residents during summer.

Upon hearing about the shooting, county staff worked quickly to round up the 40 or so campers and many more children and other residents at the pool, said deputy county administrator Bryan Hill.

"We got everyone inside as quickly as possible and quarantined them in the gymnasium until the police told us everything was clear," Hill said. "We rounded up all the children and had them all accounted for. That was the only thing that mattered to us."

Hill said he is uncertain what impact Tuesday's shooting will have on the camp.

"It's kind of difficult to put parameters on when kids can be outside," Hill said. "This shooting is a one-time deal. If it was happening all the time, who knows, we might have an armed guard outside. I don't know what else we could have done yesterday besides get everyone inside as quickly as possible and make sure everyone was safe."

The activity center also served as a voting precinct Tuesday for a Beaufort City Council special election.

Scott Marshall, executive director of the county Board of Elections and Voter Registration, said the incident -- which forced police to close part of Greene Street for more than an hour -- does not appear to have disrupted voting.

About 400 ballots were cast at the gym, according to county officials.

Officers continue to search for Oliver, Clancy said, and the four men believed to have been the targets of the assault and others involved have been urged not to take the law into their own hands.

"Investigators have spoken to those involved regarding the futility of retaliation ...," Clancy said.

Those who frequent the center and the adjacent basketball court hope the message was heard.

"It's scary stuff," Darren Warner of Beaufort said as he shot baskets on the court Wednesday afternoon. "I mean to try to shoot somebody like that in broad daylight? These kids are crazy. I don't think they really get the seriousness of what they're doing out here. They're really putting a lot of fear into the community. It's not right."

Follow reporter Patrick Donohue at twitter.com/ProtectServeBft.