Three dead, one wounded after Ruffin shooting | News | The Press and Standard
by The Press and Standard | May 18, 2017 5:00 am
Last Updated: May 17, 2017 at 11:47 am
By GEORGE SALSBERRY
The residents in the 21000 block of Lowcountry Highway were out of their homes, talking quietly among themselves, watching as safety forces worked the crime scene at the little white house at 21785 Lowcountry Highway the afternoon of May 16.
At the little white house were the bodies of three people shot to death. Bullets had claimed the lives of a father, mother and their 13-year-old son.
A fourth victim, the couple’s nine-year-old granddaughter, was treated at the scene. She was then placed in an ambulance and rushed to Colleton Medical Center, where a helicopter was on standby to fly her to the Pediatric Trauma Center at the Medical University of South Carolina.
“It was very tragic,” said Colleton County Fire-Rescue Chief Barry McRoy, who was among the safety forces’ personnel at the scene.
While investigators searched the house, other members of the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office went to the neighboring homes to talk to the residents, seeking to find out if they had heard or seen anything in the quiet neighborhood that had seemed out of the ordinary — any information that might turn into a clue.
Colleton County Sheriff Andy Strickland said May 16 at approximately 4:48 p.m., multiple calls reporting shots fired, and then calls saying multiple people were shot at the home, came into emergency dispatch.
The first deputies arrived at the scene shortly after 5 p.m., followed to Ruffin’s main street by command staff, more road patrol officers and investigators.
The first public safety units on the scene reportedly found Vincent Miller, the 13-year-old, dead on the front lawn of the home.
Phillip Miller, his father, was dead on the porch; Lori Miller, his mother, was dead inside the house.
Deputy Colleton County Coroner Richard Carter said that the preliminary cause of death on all three victims is listed as multiple gunshots. Autopsies are pending at the forensic unit at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.
The nine-year-old girl reportedly ran out of the house with her unharmed younger sister.
A motorist passing by stopped abruptly in the middle of Lowcountry Highway after spotting the girls. The driver tended to the nine-year-old girl while another occupant of the motor vehicle cared for her sister.
Lt. Tyger Benton, the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office public information officer, said that those collecting evidence at the crime scene found marijuana inside the house. He could not estimate how much marijuana was found, but suggested that it was not a small amount.
Benton, contacted the morning of May 17, said that it is still early in the investigation and that no motive has been identified. “We are working on a few leads,” he added.
Strickland, after arriving on the scene, put in a call to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, asking that the state law enforcement agency provide personnel from its crime scene unit to handle the process of retrieving evidence from inside the home, as well as additional investigators to work with the sheriff’s office investigators on the case. “This will be a joint investigation,” he said.
The accumulation of emergency vehicles from the sheriff’s office and fire-rescue, soon joined by vehicles from the SLED and Colleton County Coroner’s Office personnel, clogged Lowcountry Highway in downtown Ruffin, shutting down traffic through the area. Yellow crime scene tape was stretched across the roadway in a number of locations.
Anticipating that the roadway would be clogged for hours, the sheriff’s office contacted the South Carolina Department of Transportation to have barriers placed in the roadway and set up a temporary detour around the crime scene.
Strickland said the roadway would be closed “as long as it takes to do a proper investigation.”