Crime

Wife of Rock Hill SWAT standoff suspect ‘traumatized,’ severely injured

A judge denied bond Friday for Bernard McCree, who allegedly assaulted and held his wife at gunpoint before engaging police in a six-hour-long standoff Thursday.
A judge denied bond Friday for Bernard McCree, who allegedly assaulted and held his wife at gunpoint before engaging police in a six-hour-long standoff Thursday. tkulmala@heraldonline.com

Before Bernard McCree engaged Rock Hill police in a six-hour standoff at his home Thursday, he bit and hit his wife of 30 years in an attack that may have left her with permanent damage.

During a bond hearing on Friday, new details came out about the violent night that preceded the SWAT standoff.

McCree, 53, is charged with criminal domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature, kidnapping and possession of a weapon during a violent crime. His bond was denied by City Judge Jane Modla.

McCree barricaded himself in the bathroom of his Horseman Drive home with a shotgun early Thursday, prompting a standoff with police, who spent hours negotiating with McCree before he surrendered.

While negotiators were with McCree, Rock Hill Police Detective Ryan Thomas went to Piedmont Medical Center to interview McCree’s wife, whose face appeared to be swollen twice its normal size, Thomas said during Friday’s hearing.

“Her eye was swollen shut, her lips were swollen, her forehead was swollen and her cheek looked terrible,” Thomas said, noting the bite mark that he said exposed pink tissue in her cheek.

Thomas encouraged Modla to deny McCree’s bond because his wife is “traumatized by her husband’s actions and her face has been permanently damaged.”

Bernard McCree, the Rock Hill man who barricaded himself in his home during a SWAT negotiation, appeared in court Friday for his initial bond hearing. New details came out about the domestic violence situation that preceded the SWAT standoff, and

McCree’s wife explained to investigators the events that led up to Thursday’s standoff.

“She said Mr. McCree became addicted to illegal narcotics sometime ago after he obtained a sum of money, and that their marriage deteriorated because of that,” Thomas said, adding that McCree’s wife filed for formal separation.

McCree reportedly refused to leave the couple’s home after his wife had him evicted May 1.

“He continued refusing to work and refusing to change his destructive habits,” Thomas said.

The arguing between the two continued Wednesday night, when McCree returned home from drinking at a neighbor’s home, Thomas said. About 1 a.m. Thursday, she tried to leave the bedroom to be alone, but McCree grabbed her nightgown, ripping it, and pulled her back onto the bed.

Thomas said McCree pushed his wife down on the bed when she tried a second time to leave, and on her third attempt he began punching her in the face.

“Mr. McCree then displayed a disturbing proclivity toward violence when he leaned in and bit Mrs. McCree so hard on her cheek that his teeth sank into the skin,” Thomas said. McCree refused when his wife asked to go to a hospital, and told her to stay in bed.

McCree reportedly took her car keys and cellphone and armed himself with a shotgun. Thomas said the gun accidentally fired while McCree loaded it in the bathroom, blowing a hole in the home. The bullet went through the neighbor’s bedroom window and “could have injured or killed her.”

After holding his wife at gunpoint for two to three hours, McCree fell asleep, Thomas said. His wife was able to escape and call for help, and once he realized she was gone, he “hunkered down” in the bathroom with his shotgun, which he kept pointed at the robot SWAT team members sent into the home during the standoff.

“He was prepared and able to shoot responding officers, had they made entry,” Thomas said.

During the hearing, which was held on a closed-circuit TV from jail, McCree hung and shook his head, even turning away while Thomas went over the allegations.

“All of that he just told you was a lie,” McCree said when Thomas finished. “I did bite her and hit her with the back of my hand.”

McCree began explaining what happened when Modla reminded him of his right to remain silent.

McCree told the court he hasn’t worked since being terminated in October from his job as a fabricator. Before that, he said, he received a $78,000 settlement from a previous employer for asbestos exposure, which led to his being diagnosed with asbestosis.

Modla asked why McCree, who was convicted of criminal domestic violence in 2002, couldn’t use that money to retain an attorney.

“Most of that money is gone because I’ve given her a lot, we’ve spent a lot and I gave my son some,” he said. “She should probably have a thousand dollars left. I have maybe 20 bucks left in my account.”

Modla gave McCree a first appearance date of July 6. He can appeal her bond denial to a circuit court judge.

Teddy Kulmala •  803-329-4082

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