A 15-year-old boy was in custody on Monday, following a series of shooting incidents in New Ellenton on Saturday night in which three dogs were injured. His arrest, which took place around 2:45 p.m. yesterday in Aiken, was a team effort involving the New Ellenton Police Department and the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice.
The suspect “lives in New Ellenton, but he attends school in Aiken,” said Sgt. Hugh Ray of the New Ellenton Police Department. “He will be transported to Columbia and incarcerated there until he has a hearing in Family Court within 24 to 48 hours. The charges pending against him are one count of unlawful possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, three counts of animal cruelty and one count of threatening public officials.”
Ray added that New Ellenton police officers were hoping to arrest another “person of interest,” who is an older male, in the next day or so.
“We have his name, but we are not at liberty to put it out until we get some closure on a couple of leads that we have,” Ray said.
New Ellenton law enforcement officials learned there was trouble in the small city south of Aiken on Saturday when they received a phone call around 7 p.m. “about two young men discharging a firearm on Sizemore Avenue,” Ray said.
Three dogs suffered gunshot wounds even though there were pleas from bystanders not to hurt the animals, according to Ray. Two of the dogs had to be taken to a veterinary clinic for treatment, but the other one “was just grazed,” he reported.
“They were lucky that the bullets that entered them didn’t hit any vital organs,” Ray said.
After harming the dogs, the two suspects fled, “firing into the air a couple of times,” according to Ray. A search that involved the Aiken County Bloodhound Tracking Team was unsuccessful, but, afterward, “the community came together, and we started receiving tips,” Ray said. “We followed those leads, and they led us to where we are today. We appreciate the cooperation of everyone. That’s what it takes to get a violent crime resolved in an expeditious manner.”
According to Ray, it was fortunate that no people were injured during the shootings.
“There was a lot of pedestrian traffic,” he said. “Shooting dogs is cruel and bad in its own way, but they (the suspects) also showed a wanton disregard for the safety of our citizens because there were families in the yards at those locations while shots were being fired. We weren’t going to tolerate that.”