Shots fired at Sumter church hoops game Thursday

BY ADRIENNE SARVIS
adrienne@theitem.com
Posted 12/31/17

It seems everyone escaped injury after shots were fired during a basketball game at Berea Seventh-Day Adventist Church gym about 8:15 p.m. on Thursday, officials said.

The purpose of the church's basketball ministry, pastor Michael Miller said, …

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Shots fired at Sumter church hoops game Thursday

Posted

It seems everyone escaped injury after shots were fired during a basketball game at Berea Seventh-Day Adventist Church gym about 8:15 p.m. on Thursday, officials said.

The purpose of the church's basketball ministry, pastor Michael Miller said, is to provide an outlet for young people and others to learn positive life skills, such as how to properly handle disagreements and how to be a better person.

That lesson apparently missed the basket for at least two of the ministry's participants. A preliminary investigation conducted by Sumter Police Department indicates shots were fired during an argument between two opposing team members, according to a news release.

Witnesses said they neither know the identities of the people involved nor what led to the fight.

Though the initial call claimed someone had been grazed by a bullet, investigators could not find anyone who was injured by a gunshot, said Tonyia McGirt, public information officer for the department.

From this incident, there are lessons that can be learned, the church's Miller said.

"The greatest display of power is restraint," he said. "Use your mind, and come to a positive result."

Records show mostly property checks were conducted at the church and its gym, states the release.

Despite the recent shooting, Berea's basketball ministry is known for its positive outreach in the Lafayette Drive community for the past 15 years.

Each Thursday, 25-30 people attend basketball games held in the gym - those who attend Bible study on Tuesday can play.

"Berea's basketball ministry serves as an example of the efforts within Sumter to have a positive impact on young people and the community as a whole," Sumter Police Chief Russell F. Roark III said. "However, the best of intentions can't always anticipate or control the actions of others."

A sign posted on the gym's door prohibits firearms and other weapons.

Roark III said the police department is working with the church on safety concerns as it plans to continue the basketball ministry after Thursday's incident.