YORK -- Sandy Dayton and her 16-year-old daughter, Nicole Childers, were leaving to visit some friends when police say their neighbor gunned down a 54-year-old woman at their York apartment complex.
Dayton and Nicole had just returned from a nearby convenience store shortly before 6:30 p.m. Monday. Dayton went upstairs to drop off the case of soft drinks she'd purchased, and Nicole waited at the bottom of the staircase outside building 7 of the Cedar Terrace Apartments. They'd planned to walk to a friend's place on the other side of the complex.
"All we heard is ... 'I'm gonna shoot you,'" Nicole said of the voice that came from the apartment she was standing beside that night.
Nicole started running up the stairs and heard gunfire. She looked over the railing and saw a woman crawling out of her neighbor's door.
The woman was surrounded by blood.
"Help me," she said the bleeding woman told her. "Please. I've just been shot."
Nicole ran upstairs to call 911.
York police later arrested 48-year-old Margie West, charging her with murder and possession of a firearm in the commission of a violent crime. Authorities say she shot Pamela Caines of Rock Hill three times that night.
Police don't know why Caines was at West's apartment, said York Police Chief Bill Mobley. He said the women had known each other for a long time and had been in a relationship, although he wouldn't specify what kind of relationship.
A few months ago, the two had a falling out, Mobley said, and since then, each woman had complained to police about the other. Those complaints did not lead to any arrests, he said.
Police responded to the apartment Monday night after receiving several 911 calls, including one from a caller who claimed to have heard shots fired and a woman screaming for help, a police report stated.
When officers arrived, they found Caines lying in a pool of blood at the doorway to the apartment.
West told police she shot Caines after Caines struck her with a small souvenir baseball bat, Mobley said.
But officers found Caines' body lying as though she had been leaving the apartment, the report stated. Witness accounts and the location and number of the gunshot wounds also weren't consistent with an attack, police said.
Caines was shot twice in the chest and once in the back, said York County Deputy Coroner Ev Amick. She also had a large gash on her head. She was taken to Piedmont Medical Center in Rock Hill, where she died.
West received medical treatment Monday night for chest pains, Mobley said. She was arrested after her release from PMC and was being held at the Moss Justice Center on Tuesday night. A magistrate denied her bond.
Some of Caines' family members contacted by The Herald on Tuesday did not want to comment.
After watching authorities remove Caines' body on a stretcher Monday night, Nicole Childers burst into tears.
Sandy Dayton said she'd never seen anything like this in her neighborhood.
"It's horrible," she said.
This is the first homicide in the city of York in 2008.