Lancaster pastor fatally shot after pointing gun at deputies, SLED says

Law enforcement agencies investigate an officer-involved shooting at a Lancaster County store.
Law enforcement agencies investigate an officer-involved shooting at a Lancaster County store.

A pastor was fatally shot by Lancaster County sheriff’s deputies Thursday after he allegedly pointed a gun at officers responding to a dispute between him and his estranged wife at a Lancaster County store, according to the State Law Enforcement Division.

Darrell Morgan, 60, of Williams Estate Drive in Lancaster, was pronounced dead Thursday afternoon at Springs Memorial Hospital, according to Lancaster County Deputy Coroner Glen Crawford. An autopsy is scheduled for Friday in Newberry.

Morgan is the pastor at Free Will Baptist Church, according to multiple media reports.

The incident began about 2:15 p.m. when a woman entered the Carolina Corner store on U.S. 521, according to Thom Berry, a SLED spokesman. The woman’s estranged husband, Darrell Morgan, entered a short time later and they “began a discussion.” Morgan reportedly pulled out a handgun, and the store manager called 911.

Deputies from the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office responded to the store, located north of the city of Lancaster.

“According to the information developed so far, when the deputies entered the building, the man made threats and started to point the gun at the deputies,” Berry said, “at which time the two officers fired, striking the man.”

Morgan was transported to Springs Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Berry said. It’s unclear how many times the deputies fired their weapons.

Morgan’s estranged wife was not injured, and neither was the store manager or her son, Berry said. The two deputies, who have not been identified, were placed on administrative leave with pay while SLED investigates.

This is the 22nd officer-involved shooting in South Carolina this year, according to SLED. In 2014, there were 42 officer-involved shooting incidents in the state.

The initial call was a domestic incident, with a possible hostage situation. Investigators were still at the scene Thursday evening.

The driveway leading to the store, situated uphill from U.S. 521, is lined with pre-built carports, miniature barns and other small storage buildings. A number of U-Haul trucks and trailers, which the store rents, are parked along the driveway, and a sign outside the store advertises antiques and “varieties” available inside.

“They sell all kinds of stuff – furniture, old stuff, toys for kids,” said Lancaster resident Pam Hancock, who saw the commotion outside the store as she drove past. “I seen everybody out here and it roped off. I knew something was going on. I thought they got robbed.”

Hancock said she has known the store’s owners for years, and that they appeared to be in good spirits when she talked with them after the shooting Thursday.

Teddy Kulmala •  803-329-4082