Rock Hill man named suspect in shooting of wife, granddaughter

adouglas@heraldonline.com jmcfadden@heraldonline.com rsouthmayd@heraldonline.com March 21, 2014 

A Rock Hill man has been named as the only suspect in the fatal shootings of his wife and granddaughter at the couple’s home Friday morning, deputies say.

Ronald Fred Gregory, 67, was taken to Piedmont Medical Center after deputies found his wife, Barbara Gregory, 71, and 9-year-old granddaughter Mia Rodgers dead from gunshot wounds in their home on Idlewild Drive in the Belair Acres neighborhood off S.C. 5.

Deputies went to the home, in an area neighbors describe as quiet and peaceful, at about 10:20 a.m. after receiving a 911 hang-up call, said Sheriff’s Office spokesman Trent Faris. Once deputies went inside the house, they found Barbara Gregory and Mia Rodgers dead. Ronald Gregory suffered a gunshot wound, but officials will not disclose where he was shot. His condition was unknown Friday evening.

By Friday afternoon, deputies had not released a motive in the shooting, but said the case was “rapidly developing.” Deputies say Ronald Gregory is the only suspect in the shooting, stressing that no other suspects were loose or posed a risk to the community. Ronald Gregory had not been charged by Friday evening.

Deputies would not say how many shots were fired, if any weapons were recovered from the scene or where the victims were shot. The neighborhood is outside Rock Hill city limits, about a mile from Northwestern High School and Rawlinson Road Middle School.

Mia was a fourth-grade student at Mount Gallant Elementary School, said Rock Hill schools spokeswoman Elaine Baker.

The midday shooting shocked neighbors, several of whom said they could not recall violent incidents like Friday’s ever happening in the neighborhood.

Mitch Kelley, whose grandparents live on Idlewild Drive, said mostly older people live in the neighborhood. The slayings, he said, shook his sense of safety.

“We’re kind of big on safety here,” he said. “It makes me a little more nervous ... till I find out what happened here today.”

His grandmother, Julie Spell, said she did not know the Gregorys well, but considered them a “very nice couple.”

Ronald Gregory could often be seen riding up and down the street in golf carts with his grandchildren, Spell said. Recently, Spell hosted a yard sale. Ronald Gregory, his grandchildren in tow, came into the yard as he purchased a meat cutter.

The shooting is “such a shock,” she said.

Deborah Hovis, who lives two houses down from the Gregorys, said the same.

“I can’t imagine what happened that would make him do that,” she said. Hovis said Ronald Gregory always seemed “very cordial” and “friendly.” He cared for Barbara Gregory, who court documents show had fallen, broke both her legs, suffered permanent mitochondrial damage and was confined to a wheelchair.

Outwardly, Ronald Gregory seemed to handle his wife’s condition “really well,” Hovis said.

The couple purchased a camper, Hovis said, and went on a long trip last year. Ronald Gregory, she said, also recently installed a sun porch to the house so his wife could enjoy the outdoors. When it snowed, she would see Ronald Gregory and his grandchildren play outside.

Mia Rodgers, she said, “was a cute, little girl.” Ronald Gregory, she said, taught Mia how to ride a bicycle.

She called news of the deaths devastating.

“You don’t know what goes on in other people’s homes or in their minds,” she said. “I’m grateful I don’t.”

Friday’s double-slaying is the first homicide case York County Sheriff’s deputies have investigated this year.

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