Thursday, June 5, 2008

South Carolina: No charges after barbershop owner shoots man during fight

Columbia, South Carolina

From WIS TV of June 2, 2008
No charges after barbershop owner shoots man during fight

A Columbia barbershop owner says he was just protecting himself.

Johnny Cole admits he shot a man at his business Monday, but Tuesday he told WIS News 10 he had no choice.

Now Columbia police say they're not charging either man in the incident, and are considering the case closed.

Capt. Thomas Dodson says the solicitor's office doesn't have enough evidence to support a charge, and police could not locate a witness.

"My back's real sore. And my neck. But you know, the hard cement ain't no joke," says Cole.

Cole says it was self-defense, that he was trying to protect himself from a guy who punched him in the face and body-slammed him on the floor of his barber shop.

"I don't know what his problem. Don't know what his motivation. I don't know nothing about that. I don't even know the guy," says Cole.

Cole runs the shop at Richland and Sumter Street, where he's been cutting hair at the location for almost 20 years.

Cole says he's never had trouble here before until Monday afternoon, when a car stopped at the intersection then backed up.

Cole recognized a woman passenger, and spoke to her. He says next thing he knew, the man with her was on the attack.

"He hit me first. And then I defend myself and when I defend myself, he reached for the bag I had on my shoulder," says Cole.

The fight moved inside, and finally Cole says, he grabbed his gun. One shot was fired, hitting 44-year-old Anthony Sylvester Williams in the forearm.

No charges have been filed so far, because police Captain Thomas Dodson says it's still not clear which man was the aggressor.

"Under the new state law, under the Castle Doctrine, there's no duty for a person to retreat, that's being assaulted. But once that attacker starts to retreat, to flee, that's where we have to find out where to draw the line," says Dodson.

Dodson says police are still talking to witnesses and trying to track down the woman in the car. Cole identifies her as an ex-girlfriend.

We've not been able to locate Williams, the man shot in the arm, to get his side of the story. Police say he was not seriously wounded.

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