COLUMBIA — A police officer at a small South Carolina college who shot and killed a student from a nearby school had been a law enforcement officer for 25 years, but was only hired on campus less than two months ago, authorities said Thursday.
Spartanburg Methodist College identified the officer who shot Delvin Tyrell Simmons on Monday night as Andrew Tomlinson.
Tomlinson, who was hired by the school Sept. 15, is on paid administrative leave along with officer Justin Yarbrough, who was with him at the time of the shooting. Yarbrough has 15 years of law enforcement experience and was hired by the school Sept. 21, according to the college, which sent a news release through the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office.
The release did not say where either officer worked before they were hired by the school.
The officers were checking on reports of car break-ins Monday night when they found Simmons and another man stealing from vehicles, authorities have said.
Simmons, 20, tried to drive away and hit Tomlinson with his car, investigators said. Tomlinson fired and hit Simmons with two bullets, including one to the head, according to the coroner’s office.
The second man, Oliver Chandler, also 20, ran away but was arrested a short time after the shooting. He is charged with larceny.
Simmons was an early childhood education major at Limestone College, about 25 miles away in Gaffney. Family members said he was an honor student and are asking the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division to release as much information as possible so Simmons can get justice.
The family was at a memorial service Thursday at Limestone College for Simmons. School chaplain the Rev. Ron Singleton said the trip from childhood to adulthood is full of peril and chances to make bad decisions. He said a college is a place where people can work to make sure everyone finds their potential.
“Those who taught, worked, and studied with him had great hopes for his future and are deeply saddened by his death,” Singleton said. “Whatever the circumstances or unfortunate choices that led to it, we mourn the loss of this member of our college family.”