Three men have been charged with murder in two separate Columbia shootings, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said Thursday.
Aaron Evans, 44, and Simeon Miller, 25, were arrested Wednesday in the killing of Joshua Emmanuel Peterson last Friday, Lott said during a news conference.
Deputies responded to a drive-by shooting that happened about a mile from the sheriff’s department headquarters on Nov. 1. Evans and Miller were in a dark-colored vehicle and fired into Peterson’s car as he drove along the 6700 block of Two Notch Road, authorities said. The gunmen drove away from the scene.
Peterson ran off the road near Cadia Drive and Crossland Lane, according to a witness. The witness flagged down someone for help. Paramedics rushed Peterson to the hospital, where the 27-year-old died, according to police.
Lott said the shooting caused concern in the community.
“It caused a good amount of fear, but it was not a random shooting,” Lott said. “This was a targeted hit, this was an assassination.”
Miller and Evans had a relationship with Peterson, according to Lott, who said the shooting was a premeditated murder. Peterson was targeted, and after he left a court appearance in downtown Columbia, Miller and Evans stalked him until he dropped off a passenger in the Dentsville area, according to the sheriff’s department.
Once they knew Peterson was driving alone at about 11 a.m., they fired on his vehicle, Lott said.
“This was premeditated, not spur of the moment, or a crime of passion,” the sheriff said. “He was targeted, murdered and (the gunmen) thought they’d get away with it.”
Deputies arrested the men thanks to help from the community. Lott said that was also critical in leading to the arrest of Anthony Williams in another killing.
The 27-year-old was arrested Thursday and charged with murdering Richard Patterson, 31, on May 5.
Deputies responded to a fight around 1:30 a.m. in the 7900 block of Bluff Road, which is just past Congaree Road in the Gadsden area of Richland County. They found Richard Lamar Patterson shot in the upper body, the department said. Paramedics took the man to a hospital, where he died.
Richland County Coroner Gary Watts said Patterson died at 2:40 a.m. from multiple gunshot wounds.
Like the Two Notch Road shooting, this was not a random act, Lott said.
Williams and Patterson knew each other and had an ongoing dispute, which escalated into the shooting, according to the sheriff’s department.
“Shootings aren’t random, there’s some reason behind it,” Lott said. “We don’t have people running around shooting into cars and houses without some reason.”
Lott said investigators had an idea Patterson was the suspect, but needed assistance from the community to arrest him. Reluctance from the witnesses prolonged the investigation, according to the sheriff’s department.
“To the community, keep on working with us,” Lott implored. “We solve these cases because of relationships with the community. We need a partnership between community and law enforcement. ... we’re going after these people who are terrorizing our community.
“And a message to the bad guys: we’re going to get you. We’re not going to allow you to get away with this in our community. We’re going to put you in jail where you need to go.”
The sheriff’s department said the charges reduced the number of unsolved murders this year in Richland County to three. Overall, there have been 17 murders in the county this year, which is fewer than the 20 reported at the same date in 2018.
Lott decried the amount of gun violence.
“We have a generation that lives and dies by the gun,” Lott said. “It’s only going to get you in one of two places, prison or the cemetery.”
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