South Carolina

20-year-old fatally shot at party identified as Benedict College student, school says

Benedict College student Donovan J. Smalls was killed in a shooting at a weekend party in Orangeburg.
Benedict College student Donovan J. Smalls was killed in a shooting at a weekend party in Orangeburg. Facebook Screen Grab

A 20-year-old was shot and killed at a South Carolina house party early Sunday morning, the Orangeburg Department of Public Safety said.

On Monday, the person was identified as Donovan J. Smalls by the Orangeburg County Coroner’s Office, the Times & Democrat reported.

Benedict College confirmed the Goose Creek native was a student at the university in Columbia, according to WLTX.

“The entire Benedict College family mourns the tragic loss of our fallen Tiger, Donovan Smalls,” Benedict College said in a statement shared by the TV station.

Public safety officers responded to the party at about 2:15 a.m. after receiving “numerous 911 calls” about a shooting, according to an incident report. The officers reported seeing a crowd of people around the victim with a gunshot wound, who was later identified as Smalls.

Witnesses reported hearing “more than 30 shots fired,” at the party where the junior studying technical engineering was killed, WACH reported.

Earlier, a 911 call was made reporting fireworks going off after previous complaints were made about loud music and the party “getting out of hand,” officers said in the incident report.

A woman was also struck in the chest by gunfire during the shooting, according to the incident report.

She was identified as a 21-year-old Claflin University student who “was wounded, taken to the hospital, treated and released,” said George Johnson Jr., the school’s Assistant Vice President for Communications and Marketing, according to the Times & Democrat.

An autopsy on Smalls is scheduled for Wednesday, WLTX reported.

No suspects have been arrested or charged, and there is no word on what led up to the shooting.

Witnesses said between 40-50 people left the party by the time officers arrived, according to the incident report.

Students at Benedict are reaching out to peers at Historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, to help bring solve the killing, student body 2nd vice president Jordan Rice-Woodruff said in a WACH report.

“If you know any answers, all Greeks, all organizations, basketball, football teams we are just asking if you were at that party that night just come forward with answers,” Rice-Woodruff said, according to the TV station.

Smalls will posthumously receive an award at Benedict for his photography work, per WACH.

In December, Smalls posted about his interest in photography on Facebook. Samples of his work are on his Instagram page, where Smalls was starting a business.

Anyone with information is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 888-CRIME-SC or submit an online tip.

Brenda Henicks and Audrey Varner were among the parents who gathered at the State House on Sunday to speak about losing children to gun violence.

Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State and McClatchy Carolinas Regional Team. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.