Two people were killed, including a teenager, when gunfire erupted at a rural South Carolina block party that drew up to 1,000 revelers in spite of government warnings against large gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic, authorities said.
The shooting broke out just before 8 p.m. on Saturday in an unincorporated area about nine miles outside Union, South Carolina, after the Union County Sheriff’s Department responded to a complaint of vehicles blocking a roadway, Major Scott Coffer told ABC News on Sunday.
Coffer said a DJ was spinning tunes when a sheriff’s deputy arrived at the party, which was on private property, and asked him to make an announcement for partygoers to move their cars.
He said the deputy was arranging for several cars that were not moved to be towed when he heard the first shots, prompting him to call for backup.
“They were still shooting when I got there and I had to come from my house,” Coffer said.
He said two young men were discovered mortally wound. One was pronounced dead at the scene and the other was taken to Union Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead, the Union County Coroner’s Office said in a statement to ABC News on Sunday. The victims were identified as 17-year-old Jabbrie Brandon of Union and 21-year-old Lamont Bomar of Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Another five people were taken to hospitals with gunshot wounds and are expected to recover, Coffer said.
Coffer said 900 to 1,000 people were at the party when the gunfire began.
Two men were taken into custody, one on a charge of illegal possession of a firearm. But Coffer said it remains unclear if the men were involved in the fatal shootings.
“Those two are actually being interviewed by detectives now,” he said.
The block party was apparently held against Gov. Henry McMaster’s coronavirus stay-at-home guidelines issued in mid-March, advising against gatherings of more than 10 people.
On May 4, McMaster lifted the mandatory stay-at-home orders and made them voluntary.
“Being a private party on private property, we couldn’t do anything about it anyway,” Coffer said. “We’ve run into that before when this first started in March with the COVID-19. We can’t tell people who can be at their house and who can’t.”
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