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State agency investigating local shooting

State investigators are still combing through the details and motives behind a July 11th shooting that left one man suffering from a gun wound to the back.

The incident occurred on the afternoon of July 11th at Tommie’s Auto and Diesel, a towing and automotive repair business in Walterboro.

Initially, 911-emergency dispatchers were called, with reports that a disgruntled customer was refusing to pay for services already provided to his vehicle. Then, other calls came into the emergency dispatch center. This time, there were reports of a man waving a gun into the air.

As stated in a Colleton County Sheriff’s Office incident report, deputies who first responded to the scene found a man laying on the ground, suffering from a gunshot wound to the back. The alleged suspect – who is not listed in the report – was described as holding his hands in the air, with a gun in one of his hands.

Leaders with the Sheriff’s Office called the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) to assist them in the investigation. As of press deadline this week, SLED had full control over the investigation.

The local sheriff’s office is referring all questions about the ordeal to SLED.

SLED Spokesman Thom Berry says that it is not “uncommon” for sheriff’s offices and law enforcement agencies in South Carolina to ask SLED for assistance. In this case, however, Berry says the sheriff – elected leader R. Andy Strickland – is a friend of Nate Bristow, who owns Tommie’s Auto and Diesel, the business where this shooting occurred. Additionally, Bristow is also a contracted employee with Colleton County. However, Berry says he is unaware of those contracts, in terms of why SLED was asked to take over the investigation.

According to Berry, SLED is still investigating this case. No arrests have been made, as of press deadline Tuesday morning. “We have conducted interviews with everyone who was there, and we are still investigating,” said Berry.

Business Owner Nate Bristow issued a statement on the incident. In his own words, Bristow says a customer traveling on Interstate 95 requested services from the business, with repairs being needed to his trailer. “The customer came to the business today and made an attempt to retrieve the trailer without paying for the repairs,” Bristow said, in a written statement given to this newspaper. “When approached by the owner, the customer produced a weapon, assaulted the owner and, as a result, the customer was shot,” he said. Bristow added that he did not know the medical condition of the customer and asked for prayers.

“Tommie’s Auto & Diesel seek your prayers for all parties affected by this tragedy,” he said.

Berry says the last known medical condition of the victim is that he was recovering from his wound at Trident Hospital in Charleston, where he was transported from Colleton Medical Center following the shooting.

Heather Walters (1410 Posts)