A Rock Hill drug deal turned into a shootout near a busy shopping center and apartment complex in late May because the marijuana dealers were planning to rip off the buyer by substituting pine needles, prosecutors said Thursday in a court hearing.
The drug buyer – an Army reservist – became nervous that a gun had been pulled on him as the deal went down and started shooting inside a car with three alleged drug dealers inside, said Jessica Holland, 16th Circuit assistant solicitor. All four were shot as bullets flew inside the car and all four were arrested on charges ranging from attempted armed robbery to attempted murder.
“Everybody started shooting,” Holland said. “All the people in the car are both victims and defendants.”
On May 29 in the parking lot of the Pepper Ridge Apartments off Dave Lyle Boulevard, Zachary Vaverchak, 20, the Army reservist, was planning to buy a half-pound of marijuana for $1,700 from Darius Stevenson, 19, and Alec McCoy, 20, Holland said. However McCoy and Stevenson “intended to rip him off” by using pine needles instead of marijuana, Holland said.
Stevenson and McCoy allegedly picked up a third man and the three met first in the Target parking lot, then went to the apartments where Vaverchak lives. Vaverchak had several people in his apartment waiting for him to make the deal and had gone into the apartment to get the money, Holland said.
But in the parking lot, Vaverchak got into the car and felt antsy about the deal, telling police he felt a gun on him so he pulled out his pistol and started shooting. Jonathan Spurgeon, 25, was shot in the throat and was found by police close to the car near death from his wounds, Holland said. McCoy and Stevenson were shot and fled for medical help and were later arrested.
Officers responding to the scene found Vaverchak – shot in the left arm and elbow – who gave a detailed statement about what happened, Holland said.
Vaverchak, who has no prior record, did not speak in court Thursday. He appeared in court asking for bond after being jailed since the shootings. Holland, the prosecutor, opposed bond because of the “incredibly dangerous behavior” of all the defendants who put the community at risk during the shootout.
Vaverchak’s lawyer, Jim Boyd, claimed while Vaverchak was involved in something he should not have been,the dealers who were trying to rip Vaverchak off were the aggressors and Vaverchak shot at them in self-defense.
Visiting Judge Roger Couch set bond for Vaverchak at $75,000. Vaverchak is to be under electronic monitoring on house arrest, except to go to work and see his lawyer. He also can’t contact the others connected to the crime.
Spurgeon, with a past felony conviction, had been hospitalized for almost a month until his release this week, when he was charged with attempted murder, conspiracy, attempted armed robbery and two weapons charges. He is jailed without bond.
McCoy and Stevenson – accused of being the dealers – both remain jailed without bond on attempted armed robbery and conspiracy charges.
Joseph Grobusky, 22, of Rock Hill, was charged with obstruction of justice and Andrew Snyder, 24, of Rock Hill, is accused of accessory after as both were part of the attempt to throw off police and get rid of the gun Vaverchak used.
Andrew Dys • 803-329-4065