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18th Annual Weekend With The Pros Wakeboarding event returns to Lake Murray this weekend
Lake Murray, SC 06/06/2023 - The 18th Annual Weekend With The Pros returns to Lake Murray at Captain’s Choice Marine on June 9th and 10th. Two world-class wakeboarders, Bec Gange and Parker Swope, and Joey Harris, a professional wakesurfer, will attend this fan-favorite event. Weekend With The Pros is a free, family-friendly event held on the water in front of Captain’s Choice Marine in Leesville, South Carolina. The event offers wakeboard & wakesurf lessons, pro autographs, food trucks and more. The highlight is the Pro Wakeboard Show on Saturday from 2 - 3 PM, where pro wakeboarders will showcase their best tricks in front of a live audience. Spectators can raft-up by boat or enjoy by land to take part in one of the Southeast’s largest wakeboard events. The show will also be broadcast live on 93.1 The Lake. Captain’s Choice Marine presents the 18th Annual Weekend With The Pros featuring Malibu boats. “19 years ago, this event started as a group of my friends pooling our money to bring a pro wakeboarder to Lake Murray for coaching,” says Event Director and Rough Riders Founder Chris Farr. “It grew to involve more riders, local businesses, and people from all over the state and beyond who have the chance to meet pro riders and watch world-class wakeboarding. Our mission has remained the same since the beginning: to introduce people to the best in lake life and to spread our love of watersports. In wakeboarding, we call it ‘passing the handle’ when you introduce someone to the sport. It has been my honor to help pass the handle to hundreds of riders over the years, and I am looking forward to continuing to do so again this year,” he continues. “For my 13th birthday, my parents hired Jonathon McDonald, a world champion wakeboarder to come to Lake Murray and coach me,” says Event Director and Rough Riders Founder, Chris Farr. “The first time he hit the wake and did a flip, it changed my life. I spent that summer learning my first flip and after that, I went on to compete in watersports through high school and college. Watersports made me athletic, changed the way I felt about myself, and it's been a part of my life ever since. Weekend With The Pros was born out of what my parents did for me for that birthday back in 1997.” Farr’s mission to spread the group’s love of watersports has become even more special recently as he and his wife, Brynley Farr, have begun to teach his three sons, ages nine, seven, and four, how to wakeboard. Their oldest son, W.H. Farr, has helped open the past six Pro Wakeboard Shows with pro wakeboarders Shaun Murray, Steel Lafferty, Dallas Friday, Josh Palma, Chad Sharpe, and Bec Gange will be joined by his younger brothers, Jack and Christopher Farr, this summer. In years past, riders of all ages and experience levels have enjoyed participating in lessons with the pros and riders as young as four years old can sign up for lessons. Pro Wakeboarding Lessons with Bec Gange, Parker Swope, and Joey Harris will be offered on Friday and Saturday at Captain’s Choice Marine and are $400 for a full day on Friday and $222 for a half-day on Saturday. Lessons include world-class coaching behind the new Malibu wake boats, equipment demos, an event shirt, snacks, and lunch with the pros (lunch purchased separately from lesson). More information on the Pro Wakeboarding Lessons and registration can be found at scroughriders.com. Lessons have limited availability. Boat Demos & Food Truck Parties will be held on Friday and Saturday from 9 AM to 6 PM at Captain’s Choice Marine located at 3216 US-378 in Leesville, SC 29070 in the Twin Bridges area of Hollow Creek in Lexington County. This is a FREE event for the public to attend. Enjoy food trucks, slushies, boat demos with the Captain’s Choice crew, and autographs and photos with The SC Rough Riders and Pro Wakeboarders. The Pro Wakeboard Show is the weekend's highlight, featuring pros performing their best tricks on Lake Murray in front of Captain's Choice Marine on Saturday at 2 PM. You can bring your own boat for the free show or watch from land. Front-row seats in the boats pulling the pros, including photos and autographs between sets, can be purchased at scroughriders.com for a unique view. PHOTO CAPTION: Pro Wakeboarder Parker Swope
Freaknick 803 Music Festival explodes into violence Saturday in Gaston; these have troubled history
Gaston, SC 06/05/2023 (Paul Kirby) – The Freaknick Music Festivals, much like the one that exploded into a violent mob scene in Gaston Saturday night, has left a trail of dead bodies, sexual assault victims, and other forms of serious violence in their wake since the early 1990s according to news stories easily accessed by a quick Google search. These festivals were born in the early 1980s and at their inception had a much different purpose than the crazed, violent parties they’ve become over the past 5 decades. The one held in Gaston last weekend was called Freaknick 803. Most of these have the word Freaknick as the lead word in the title and a suffix like 803 for the local area code or ATL for Atlanta as their names. It is not clear if this event was associated in some way with the Freaknick events that have popped up across Georgia and other parts of the southeast. Eventually, the event that started Saturday at the old Centennial Club on Main Street in Gaston last weekend, would go on to affect the cities and areas surrounding Cayce, West Columbia, the City of Columbia, and Richland County. It effectively shut down the Town of Gaston for quite some time Saturday night as police officers quickly organized under Chief Watkins and cleared parking lots and the small town’s streets and roads. Before things got back to normal in Gaston, there was gunfire but the man reportedly shot later said he was not hit. The violence from the “Music Festival” had endangered the lives of the multiple police officer from across the Midlands. These officers included Gaston Police Chief Stephen Watkins who for some time controlled the situation himself as he waited on backup from almost every law enforcement agency in Lexington County. Other officers from the City of Columbia and Richland County and the SC Highway Patrol were also on the scene assisting. Many residents of Gaston said that the town and area’s citizens, passing motorists, and the people in attendance at the event where it all began Saturday were also endangered by the violence. Despite his valiant efforts to control the situation until backup arrived, Chief Watkins’ and the first few backup units to arrive were quickly overwhelmed by mob of people that some estimated was in excess of 500 people. The Lexington Ledger’s on scene reporter Tim Spires, a retired firefighter with decades of public safety service including countless hours of ride-alongs with Chief Watkins and the Gaston PD, said he had never seen anything like the open civil disobedience he witnessed while reporting for The Ledger Saturday night. “There was a group of the festival goers that had apparently stopped at the 7-Eleven near Main Street and Woodtrail Drive after fleeing the party when the police arrived, and the gunfire started. Four of them stood in a row in front of a patrol vehicle from the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department and simply refused to move or follow the first deputy’s commands. The deputy stayed in his SUV and waited for 3 more SUVs which arrived for backup. Once they pulled up, they took all 4 patrol units, lined them up in front of the crowd that refused to move, and all the deputies cut their sirens on simultaneously. At that point, the Freaknick goers all ran away on foot, and I didn’t see exactly where all of them went,” Spires concluded. “I didn’t feel like it was a good idea at any point to get out my Suburban. If the deputies were not getting out, neither was I.” According to Wikipedia, the first Freaknick was conceived in March 1982 at Spelman College in a DC Metro Club meeting headed by then president Schuyla Goodson. It was sponsored by the Club, which was composed of students from Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. The DC Metro Club intended for it to be challenge to the California Club for the largest end-of-the-school-year party. Goodson suggested the name Freaknik (then spelled "Freaknic") as a portmanteau of freaky and picnic. The name Freaknik was inspired by Le Freak by CHIC, a popular song and dance in the early 1980s. First held in John A. White Park in Atlanta in April 1982, it was attended by at most 150 students. D.J. Nab, aka Happy Nappy and Daryl Baptiste Miller, played music in the park that day. Both were students at Morehouse College, but neither were a part of the DC Metro Club. Laid back music was being played, Earth Wind and Fire, Some Prince. After D.J. Nab set was over and Daryl began DJing something magical happened. He played Chuck Brown's Bustin Loose and students ran in front of the speakers and started dancing. From that point on Daryl played GoGo music and the life of "Freaknic" was born. Freaknick Music Festivals have brought more and more problems as the events have grown. Here is a list of just some of the articles we quickly located by using GOOGLE: Street party in Atlanta marred by shooting, looting, and rain https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1995/04/23/street-party-in-atlanta-marred-by-looting-rain/0c8200a0-d2a2-46c7-a7f8-9fcc903bcd3a/ ‘Freaknik’ event in Monroe Saturday shut down after traffic overwhelms neighborhoods https://news.monroelocal.org/freaknik-event-in-monroe-saturday-shut-down-after-traffic-overwhelms-neighborhoods/ 4th suspect arrested in ‘Freaknik’ fest deadly double shooting https://www.wrdw.com/2022/07/22/4th-suspect-arrested-freaknik-fest-deadly-double-shooting/ The Town of Gaston is having a council meeting tomorrow night, Tuesday, June 6, 2023, at 7:00 p.m. at the Gaston Police Department in the council chambers. This is located at 186 N Carlisle St, Gaston, SC 29053. This is a small room, and the seating capacity is limited. If you would like to speak, you normally must sign up prior to speaking at most town’s council meetings. The Freaknick 803 Music Festival will be a topic of discussion. Residents who attend need to keep in mind that the town could not have stopped this event prior to it occurring without first having hard evidence of a negative history with the organizer of the Freaknick 803. In order to deny a permit to such an event, a town or city’s government must first have an Event Permit Ordinance in place. Not all small town’s do or have ever had a call for one. An ordinance of this type, which can tale several months to get in place after it is written by Gaston’s attorney, would then govern all events that are written into the ordinance. You can’t simply include or exclude an event in the ordinance because the town’s elected officials like or dislike the type of events planned. That type of thing could be quickly challenged in court. In theory, a poorly written ordinance could require that even a large church’s homecoming requires a permit to hold. Gaston’s leaders are expected to look to other towns and cities in Lexington County who already have an Event’s Permit Process for a framework to use when they start to write any ordinance they might need after the Tuesday meeting. PHOTO CAPTION: Photo of the 7-Eleven parking lot after Freaknick 803 spills into Gaston's streets after the gunfire started.
Irmo Firefighter dies in line of duty: A different news perspective brings tears to my eyes even now
Irmo, SC 05/30/2023 (Paul Kirby) – Some of you may have been surprised that I haven’t weighed in since Friday evening when I heard that an Irmo Fire District Firefighter was killed in the line of duty fighting while on an automatic aid call at an apartment fire with the City of Columbia Fire Department last Friday. In truth, some of my old firefighter friends may have been more than surprised, they might have even been shocked! Before you offer an opinion, let me say that I had a reason to wait, and it all has to do with perspective. After receiving the first call from an old firefighter that served under me when I worked as a firefighter with Lexington County, I have been as devastated as any other community member and firefighter in the state. I know I can’t feel the same as his biological family, his wife and young son Cole, or the men and women who served alongside him recently, but none the less, all firefighters are in some ways family. They are grieving as a family all across the nation; ever one who has heard about Firefighter Muller’s death is hurting to some extent. Even if they, like me, have been out of the business for more than 20 years, they all are mourning. That length of time in itself seems strange to me now. I have been out of the business for longer than the 18 years that firefighting was such a major part of my life. Some of you may not have known that but from the time I was 18 years old until I was well into my 30s, I ate, slept, and breathed the job of firefighting. The fact that I didn’t date seriously or even get married until I was nearly 30 years old should have been a clue to those that knew me. The simple fact was that I was married to something else like a job from the ages of 18 through 29 kept me from giving my heart to anyone else. This was something that I loved so much; I didn’t think I had room for anything or anyone else in my life. Then, when I did finally find the real love of my life, the woman who stole my heart and I’ve been married to for 30 years now, she was also a firefighter whom I met at work. We got married at the church that shared a back fence with the fire station I worked at. We had our wedding reception in the bay at that same fire station in South Congaree. It really consumed me for that many years. When I finally did leave, it was because I had injured myself so severely that I had over 6 months of recuperation time to get over that unending love. I also had worked myself into a serious case of burn out. Truthfully, I needed a huge break and so I retired early. My wife now asks if I miss firefighting when there’s a big fire somewhere we see on the news. For a short time, I’d say some. Now, as I’m older I say not really. I’m too old, broken down, and sick to miss the excitement, the adrenaline rush, the blast of it all. I wish it wasn’t that way, but it is. Let me stop right here and say I’m not in any way trying to make this story about me. If you think that’s what I’m doing, you are way off base. I’m simply trying to make everyone understand my perspective about all this. For all firefighters, the death of Firefighter James Michael Muller means a great deal. Even to us who have been retired for years. I am also devastated by this death. It just hit me differently. All the other news stations and outlets have done the basics. Firefighter Muller and a number of others were fighting a fire at an apartment complex near the zoo in Columbia. They were doing what they normally do when suddenly the horror of every fire commander’s nightmare was heard on the radio. A mayday! So many news outlets reported that this was the call for all the firefighters to hastily exit the building. Unless things have changed more than I know, that’s not exactly true. A mayday means that firefighters are in trouble, and they need help. They make the call, and everyone reacts. Certainly, other firefighters make a hasty retreat but only for a moment. They immediately begin thinking about rescuing their family members, the other firefighters who are trapped or in trouble. Other news outlets reported that this happened to a member of the Irmo Fire Department. That’s not exactly correct either. Just as a sheriff’s deputy proudly answers to the call for a deputy, they don’t like being referred to so much as a police officer. Lexington County has no one police department, they are instead protected by the men and women of the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department. It’s no big thing to some but it usually means something to the men and women who serve. James Michael Muller was a proud member of the Irmo Fire District. It hasn’t been a department since its inception, and it does make a difference. The truth is, the chief of the Irmo Fire District, Chief Mike Sonefeld is a very old and dear friend of mine. We met in the late 80s when we were still in our 20s, back when he came to work for the Lexington County Fire Service. He came from the West Columbia Fire Department, and at the time, I thought he was fun and funny. When Mike left West Columbia, he came for a few dollars more in pay and more opportunity. Back then, we all made less than $20,000 per year and that in itself is proof that we weren’t in it for the money. Mike was a carpenter on the side and a damn good one. I put in septic tanks, remodeled homes, and later became an instructor for the SC State Fire Academy. Mike was right about the opportunity. For those who could see the future like Mike did, Lexington County’s Fire Service was certainly on the grow. When Mike came to South Congaree, he was instantly a friend. He was so different than most, yet I loved him like a brother. I loved him like a brother even though he came from Naperville, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. I used to tease him and say he was the only damn Yankee I ever liked. This wasn’t exactly true. His younger brother Jim was also here as a student at USC. I never thought anything of it when Mike asked if Jim could come to a cookout at my dad’s house on the lake one summer. After hearing Jim play his guitar as we all tried to sing along, he would later become famous as the drummer for the rock band Hootie and the Blowfish. I remember seeing Mike at the annual St. Patrick’s Day blowout in Columbia’s Five Points. He was in overalls pulling a little red wagon with a cooler full of beer in it. As I said earlier, he made me laugh. He wanted me to come here Jim play the drums with a group of his college buddies who had a band named after a fictional character called Hootie and another fictional bunch called the Blowfish play on the stage. If it meant sharing a few beers out of Mike’s cooler, why not. I followed along and really enjoyed it. Even Mike’s brother Steve was here in South Carolina. He was cool for a Yankee too. The truth was, these brothers were all rednecks at heart at that made me question if they were born in the wrong portion of the country. They were all great fun to be around and that made a difference to us who were born in SC. They were more likable that most from further north than I had encountered at the time. When Mike first came to Lexington County, I was his ranking officer. I was an apparatus operator, and he was a firefighter. I was in charge of teaching Mike how to drive a fire truck. Back then, everything we had had a manual transmission. I openly laughed one day when I stopped on the way back from a call and asked if he knew how to drive a stick shift. When he answered, “Does a Datsun B-210 count?” Again, I openly laughed at that question, and he did too. The small forerunner of today’s Nissan certainly didn’t compare with a fire truck’s transmission. Still, I taught him how to drive the truck because we both laughed when he would grind the gears, he’d miss one, and have to stop in the middle of the road and start again. I could go on and on, but I think you understand. We were friends because we shared a lot of laughs and the love of firefighting with one another. Friday evening, when I heard that Muller had died, I immediately texted Mike and told him I wasn’t contacting him because I wanted the scoop on the news. The fact was, I knew my old friend was hurting. I had spoken with Mike by phone over the past 6 months as we shared the news of a fire they had fought at a strip mall off Bush River Road. Even in that call, we managed to laugh and talk about old times. That’s just the kind of friends we are. The truth was that I wasn’t really hit by the old firefighter feelings until Sunday after receiving some photos from another close firefighter friend, Tim Spires. He offered to take some pictures of the procession of vehicles that was accompanying Firefighter Muller’s body from the morgue to a funeral home in Lexington. I told him I would appreciate the photos, not knowing how hard that would hit me. It wasn’t until after seeing Mike’s vehicle near the front of that procession that I began to cry. In fact, writing about that now has brought tears to my eyes again. As I sit here and weep at my keyboard, I’m not ashamed. My old family is hurting. One of my oldest friends is hurting, and I’m sure he’s shed more than a few tears over the past few days. I was in pain thinking of his pain. James Michael Muller was 27, about the age that Mike and I were when we met. I’m sure he had made many friends during the 7 years he fought fire at Irmo. They certainly have to be the ones outside his immediate family that are hurting the worst. When my wife and my children noticed my tears as I wrote this, they all asked me what was wrong. It’s hard to explain really. It’s just a different perspective on what has happened. The perspective of an old firefighter means something even after all these years. Even though I don’t even drive anymore and can’t attend the funeral in person, my heart will be there alongside all the other firefighters. Now for the facts of what will be Mullers send off. Funeral services for James Michael Muller will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 31, 2023, at Riverland Hills Baptist Church located at 201 Lake Murray Blvd, Irmo SC 29063. Honor Guard: All interested Honor Guard personnel in participating in the service must contact Captain Tony Banco with Lexington County Fire Service at 803-600-6705 for service details and assignments. Report time for all Honor Guards will be 9:30 AM at Riverland Baptist Church. Pipe and Drum: All interested Pipe and Drum personnel in participating in the service must contact Captain Austin Ely with Charlotte Fire Department at 828-994-7037 for service details and assignments. Report time for all Pipe and Drum personnel will be 10:00 AM at Riverland Hills Baptist Church. Apparatus: All outside departments that are bringing fire apparatus please see parking attachments. If you have any questions, please contact Chief Steve Graham with Boiling Springs Fire District at 864-444-4275. All apparatus should not arrive before 11:00 AM but must be onsite by 12:45 PM. No procession will be held, there will be a static display only. Firefighter Muller was awarded the Lexington One Technology Center’s Student of the year award in 2015-2016. He completed both the Firefighter 1 & 2 curriculum in the same year, something he had to talk his instructor and the school’s administration into, after transferring to Lexington from a school that did not offer this course. Ironically, Bryan Hearn, the school’s principal, is another friend of mine and Muller’s instructor Greg Hildebrand is also. In fact, Chief Hildebrand was Mike’s senior at the West Columbia Fire Department when he left. He retired from there after many years of service. During high school, Muller interned at the Irmo Fire Department (their words, not mine), every afternoon and was a member of the Lexington County Fire Service Explorers Post #1974. On behalf of the family of James Michael Muller, it has been requested that all non-fire personnel in attendance wear colorful attire as a tribute to their loved one. For all those not attending, please visit the live stream page of Riverland Hills Baptist Church on Youtube. Link provided below. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAFGOF16aQM
Coroner Fisher identifies elderly victim of Gilbert are crash
Lexington, SC 05/30/2023 - Lexington County Coroner, Margaret Fisher, has identified the individual who died in a single-vehicle collision in the 4000 block of Two Notch Road in the Gilbert area of Lexington County at approximately 7:00 A.M. on May 29, 2023. According to Coroner Fisher, Mr. Walter F. Westmoreland, 71, of Gilbert was traveling westbound on Two Notch Road when his vehicle traveled right off the roadway, overcorrected, leaving the left side of the roadway and overturning. Mr. Westmoreland, who was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident, was pronounced dead at the scene. An autopsy was conducted on May 30, 2023 with the results of the autopsy pending at this time. The South Carolina Highway Patrol and the Lexington County Coroner’s Office continue to investigate the incident.
Fisher identifies victim of South Lake Drive motorcycle crash
Lexington, SC 05/26/2023 - Lexington County Coroner Margaret Fisher has identified the man who died as a result of a motorcycle crash in the 1100 block of South Lake Drive in the Lexington area of Lexington County. This crash occurred at approximately 7:30 P.M. on Thursday, May 25, 2023. According to Coroner Fisher, Michael David Tribble, 48, of Lexington was traveling eastbound on South Lake Drive when his motorcycle was struck by another vehicle. Tribble, who was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, was transported to an area hospital where he was pronounced dead due to the injuries sustained in the accident. The South Carolina Highway Patrol and the Lexington County Coroner’s Office continue to investigate the incident.
Coroner Fisher identifies Columbia man who was the victim of a homicide on Fox Fire Drive Thursday
Lexington, SC 05/26/2023 - Lexington County Coroner Margaret Fisher released the identity of the man who was shot and killed on May 25, 2023, shortly after 1:00 P.M. in the Pine Grove Apartment Community. This is located on Foxfire Drive in the St. Andrews / Columbia area of Lexington County. Coroner Fisher said that Gary Anthony Kelly II, 45, of Columbia, was found dead inside his vehicle. Kelly was pronounced dead on scene due to a single gunshot wound to the head. Coroner Fisher has classified this death as a homicide. The Lexington County Sheriff’s Department and the Lexington County Coroner’s Office continue to investigate this incident.
Lexington District One releases statement following Thursday's bus crash south of Gilbert
Lexington, SC 05/26/2023 - On May 25, 2023, during an afternoon route, a school bus transporting students from Gilbert Middle and Gilbert High was involved in an accident at A.C. Bouknight Road and Pond Branch Road. At the time of the accident, 43 students and one driver were on the bus. According to Lexington County School District One transportation officials, 17 students and the bus driver were seen at a hospital. After responding to the site of the accident, district and school administrators went to the hospital to check on the students and their families. All have now been released from the hospital. Dr. Gerrita Postlewait, superintendent of Lexington One, said “Our hearts go out to the students and their families and everyone involved. We are truly grateful that those seen at the hospital have all been released. Today, school administrators and counselors continue to check on the students. Additional school counselors were on standby if needed.” District officials are cooperating with the S.C. Highway Patrol as they continue an investigation into the incident. Postlewait said, “We want to express our deepest appreciation and gratitude to the first responders and Lexington Medical Center’s medical personnel for the care, concern and assistance provided yesterday. Their efforts helped ensure the safety and well-being of our students.” Lexington One human resources and transportation personnel are also conducting an investigation following federal law and district procedures. The driver of the bus will remain on administrative leave pending the outcomes of the investigations.
Lexington County man sentenced to 30 years for homicide he committed at age 16
Lexington, SC 05/23/2023 – A Lexington County man has been sentenced to thirty years in prison after pleading guilty to homicide after he shot and killed a man in the Harbison area of Lexington County in 2017. Caleb M. Keefe, 22, plead guilty to shooting and killing Justin Simons, age 36, in a neighborhood near the Harbison on September 17, 2017. Deputies arrested Keefe 4 years later on December 7, 2021, following a lengthy law enforcement investigation into the homicide. The sentence was imposed Friday in Lexington County General Sessions Court by the Honorable Debra R. McCaslin following Keefe’s guilty plea. A co-defendant in the case, Isaac Hidalgo, age 24, pled guilty in May of 2022 and was sentenced to 22 years for his role in the homicide. The investigation determined that Keefe shot Simons and that Hidalgo was driving the vehicle which carried both suspects to and from the crime scene. On September 17, 2017, the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department was notified of a shooting on Stirlington Road shortly after 8:00 pm. After hearing gunshots in the area, neighbors observed the victim fatally injured in a driveway. The investigation concluded that Hidalgo and Keefe arrived at a residence on Stirlington Road under the guise of a marijuana purchase. Evidence established that the victim was not armed. As the victim spoke with Hidalgo at the car window, Keefe approached the victim from behind and shot him in the back with a Mossberg pistol gripped 12 gauge shotgun. The victim attempted to flee and Keefe pursued him, shooting him again in the back. The victim collapsed in a nearby driveway. Keefe then robbed the victim by pulling items from his pockets. Following the shooting, Keefe returned to the vehicle and fled with Hidalgo in a silver Kia. Law enforcement later located the murder weapon at the home of Keefe. DNA evidence ultimately tied Keefe directly to the weapon and GPS cell tower data placed Keefe’s phone in the area of the crime. Keefe initially denied any involvement in the crime and denied being present at the scene. Following multiple leads in the case, law enforcement later interviewed Keefe again in 2021. Keefe then made voluntary statements and admitted to his role as the shooter in this case. Keefe acknowledged that he and Hidalgo discussed the crime prior to the shooting. Keefe was age 16 at the time of this offense in 2017 and Hidalgo was age 19. Keefe was 20 years old once he was arrested and formally charged in this case in 2021. This case was prosecuted by 11th Circuit Deputy Solicitor Suzanne Mayes and investigated by Sgt. Adam Creech and members of the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department.
The Lexington PD has arrested a former Lexington County deputy accused of disorderly conduct
Lexington, SC 05/26/2023 - The Lexington Police Department has arrested a former Lexington County deputy accused of disorderly conduct at an apartment complex. Giovanni Michael Vaccaro, 29, was charged with disorderly conduct Friday morning, according to a Lexington Police Department incident report. "When I became aware of Mr. Vaccaro's actions which resulted in his arrest, I started the process to terminate his employment," Lexington County Sheriff Jay Koon said. "Deputies are held to a higher standard and Mr. Vaccaro has fallen short of that." Koon terminated Vaccaro Friday. Vaccaro, a recent graduate of the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy, was booked into the Lexington County Detention Center.
Lexington police trying to identify group that shoplifted nearly $7,000 from Ulta Beauty
Lexington, SC 05/25/2023 (Paul Kirby) – An investigator with the Lexington Police Department needs the public’s help in identifying a group of 5 people who allegedly shoplifted from Ulta Beauty in Lexington. According to the police, the group went into the store located on Sunset Boulevard on April 8, 2023. They say that the 5, working as a group, then shoplifted nearly $7,000 worth of high-end merchandise before leaving the store without paying. The 5 were captured on the store’s video surveillance system as they were in the store. Witnesses also testify that they saw the group leaving the parking lot in a white SUV. If you have information about this case, please contact Detective Tomaino at 803-358-7271 or by email at email@example.com.
Sheriff’s investigators in the early stages of a shooting investigation on Foxfire Drive
St. Andrews, SC 05/25/2023 (Paul Kirby) – Investigators with the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department are in the very early stages of an investigation into a shooting incident that took place Thursday afternoon on Foxfire Drive near the Pine Grove Apartments. Foxfire Drive runs off Piney Grove Road parallel to I-26 and Bower Parkway near Columbiana Mall. According to the department, it appears as if they will have crime scene technicians and investigators in the area for some time to come today. Although they do not have any further information that they can share at this point. When they do release additional information, we will update this story.
South Congaree Police Department now has a certified child restraint technician
South Congaree, SC 05/25/2023 (Capt. Chris Garner) - The South Congaree Police Department announced recently that it now has a certified child restraint technician on staff. Sgt. Chad Walker attended the class necessary for certification that was hosted at the Lexington Police Department in April of this year. The class was put on by DEHEC in conjunction with Safe Kids Worldwide. According to Captain Chris Garner of the South Congaree Police Department, South Congaree residents can now call the Police Department to speak with Sgt. Walker by dialing (803) 755-2760 and following the recorded prompts. Walker can then set up a time to instruct an adult on proper child seat installations. He can then correctly install the car seat in the correct position for the adult he is instructing. Walker is an 18-year veteran in law enforcement. Chief Josh Shumpert said, “We are very pleased to have him with this agency. He is an asset to us and this community with his many years of experience and professionalism. The department is committed to enhancing the quality of life for its citizens and all that visit our town,” Shumpert concluded. Safe Kids Worldwide® is a nonprofit organization working to help families and communities keep kids safe from injuries. Most people are surprised to learn preventable injuries are the #1 killer of kids in the United States. Throughout the world, almost one million children die of an injury each year, and almost every one of these tragedies is preventable. Safe Kids works with an extensive network of more than 400 coalitions in the United States and with partners in more than 30 countries to reduce traffic injuries, drownings, falls, burns, poisonings and more. Since 1988, when Safe Kids was co-founded by Dr. Marty Eichelberger and Herta Feely of the Children’s National Hospital with support from founding sponsor, Johnson & Johnson, Safe Kids has helped reduce the U.S. childhood death rate from unintentional injury by 61 percent. Working together, we can do much more to protect kids. Captain Chris Garner, the senior officer of the South Congaree Police Department’s Support Services Division commented by saying, “Losing one child is one too many, and we don't want any parent to have to endure the loss of a child. We're calling on everyone to come together, to raise awareness and to get involved. Saving lives is a decision we can all make every day”.