DARLINGTON, S.C. — Five people have been arrested and charged in connection with the Feb. 12 shooting death of a Darlington man.
Darlington police responded to 959 N. Governor Williams Highway — a strip mall near the U.S. 52/U.S. 52 Bypass intersection — and arrived to find Kwelik Bacote in the parking lot suffering from a gunshot wound, said Darlington Police Chief Kelvin Washington at a Friday morning press conference.
"During our investigation it was found that a group of young males had gotten into a physical altercation. During this altercation gunfire was exchanged between those two groups. During this altercation another individual was shot in the leg as well," Washington said.
Jalin Tremaine Mullins, 20, 207 E. Avenue, Darlington, has been arrested and charged with one count each of murder, attempted murder and possession of a weapon during a violent crime, Washington said. He is being held without bond at the W. Glenn Campbell Detention Center.
Also arrested in the case:
- Correl Littles, 18, 118 Lee Street, Darlington, who was charged with third-degree assault and battery by a mob, two counts of attempted murder and possession of a weapon during a violent crime. He is free on $50,00 bond, according to the detention center's Website.
- Jaques Daquan Mullins, 19, 1520 Bastian Blvd., Darlington, is charged with third-degree assault and battery by a mob and is free on $30,000 bond.
- Qiabeon James, 21, 612 S. Dargan St., Darlington, is charged with third-degree assault and battery by a mob and is free on $30,000 bond.
- Darius Anthony Mack, 22, 2115 Jones Road, Darlington, is charged with third degree assault and battery by a mob and is free on $30,000 bond.
Washington referenced a spate of shootings in Darlington and Florence counties that have occurred over the last couple of weeks, but declined to say if the five arrests were connected to any other of the shootings.
Washington said the investigation into the city's shooting was continuing and he didn't want to cause problems for the investigation.
"Yes, some of this is gang related. But the gangs we're dealing with now are not the traditional gangs that we've seen across the country like the Bloods and Crips," Washington said. "Most of the gangs we're dealing with today are more associated with the communities they live in or grew up in."
Washington said he's talked with Darlington County Sheriff James Hudson and Florence County Sheriff T.J. Joye and with police chiefs in both counties.
"We all feel the same way," Washington said. "There's no sense in this kind of behavior."
"We have an amazing group of people who live here in the city of Darlington; it's a very diverse group of people," Washington said. "These folks work hard and they want to have nice things and they deserve to live in a safe and comfortable environment. It's our job as law enforcement to make sure that happens.
"I've discussed this with some friends of mine who are longtime defense attorneys who represent these individuals when they participate in these criminal activities," Washington said. "We've been trying to figure out what's causing this, what's making them do this. It appears that we have children having temper tantrums with guns. That's it in a nutshell.
"I don't think they realize the seriousness of taking someone's life. This is not a television show and these folks whose lives they take are not going to be able to come back next season in another show.
"We all have some skin in this game, we all have some responsibility here," Washington said.
Washington said the city has partnered with Crime Stoppers of the Pee Dee at 1-888-CRIME-SC to allow residents to anonymously phone in crime tips to the police department.
Darlington Mayor Curtis Boyd, who also spoke at the press conference, said residents could call him with anonymous tips as well and he'd pass them on to the police department — 206-4389.
Darlington City Council member Elaine Reed said communities needed to work to curtail the availability of guns.
"My heart does go out to those families," Reed said. "Several of them I personally know so I know what they're experiencing on both sides."