Escaped Rock Hill inmate accused of shooting homeless man in Georgia


The inmate who escaped from a Rock Hill correctional facility in January is facing additional charges in Georgia after, investigators say, he admitted to shooting a homeless man during a month-long crime spree.

Zachery Lee Reaves, 26, escaped from the Catawba Pre-release Center on Milling Road in Rock Hill on Jan. 25. He was arrested March 3 in East Point, Ga., and is being held in the Fulton County jail on more than a dozen charges, including burglary, theft, obstructing law enforcement officers and fugitive from justice, according to jail records.

Now Reaves is also charged with aggravated assault and aggravated battery for allegedly shooting a homeless man in the early hours of Feb. 1, police say.

The shooting happened in East Point, a town about three miles south of downtown Atlanta where Reaves is suspected in a month-long crime spree that included several burglaries and the shootings of two dogs, according to Maj. Russell Popham, a spokesman for the East Point Police Department.

The shooting victim, a homeless man, was sleeping in a shed, Popham said. He and Reaves had had a disagreement earlier in the evening.

“(Reaves) ran by and just fired a shot through the shed wall,” Popham said. “He said he fired it to scare the guy.”

The victim was hospitalized for about three weeks, and the bullet is still lodged in his neck, Popham said. Doctors determined the bullet was lodged next to a major artery and was too risky to remove. The victim performs “odds and ends” for local businesses, including picking up trash.

Popham said police viewed surveillance footage of the incident and realized the gunman resembled the suspect in the burglary of an East Point Mexican restaurant.

After his arrest, Reaves confessed during a police interview that he shot the homeless man, authorities said. Investigators are still awaiting the results of ballistic testing on physical evidence collected at the scene.

Reaves is suspected in a string of burglaries in the East Point area prior to his arrest, police say, including one at an animal hospital where two dogs were shot, one fatally. So far, he has only been charged with one count of burglary.

Popham said Reaves also confessed to fatally shooting a third dog at an auto salvage yard. The owners of the business did not report the dog’s shooting, but when asked by police they said someone fatally shot their guard dog, he said.

It’s not clear if Reaves will waive extradition back to South Carolina or when he might return. A S.C. Department of Corrections spokeswoman has said previously that Reaves faces an escape charge that carries up to 10 years in prison.

Reaves is also accused in the burglary of a Rock Hill private school in the hours after his escape, during which investigators say he took a handgun and ammo from an office. He faces charges of second-degree burglary, larceny and possession of a weapon during a violent crime, according to Trent Faris, a spokesman for the York County Sheriff’s Office.

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