Tips from the Sumter community have led to the arrests of three teenagers in connection with the September shooting death of a Dingle Street resident.
A 15-, 16- and 17-year-old, whose names are not being released because of their ages, are each charged with murder, conspiracy, first-degree burglary and possession of a weapon during a violent crime, according to Tonyia McGirt, public information officer for the Sumter Police Department.
Two of the teens charged allegedly entered the home of McKenzie Corey Stewart, 42, of 523 Dingle St., and demanded money before shots were fired. The other teen reportedly waited outside.
Money and several other items were taken during the incident.
Stewart was pronounced dead at Prisma Health Tuomey Hospital on Sept. 30, 2019, after suffering multiple gunshot wounds, McGirt said.
One of the teens, who was 16 at the time of the incident, was taken into custody Thursday, and two others, then 14 and 16, were apprehended on Friday. They are all being held in a South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice facility.
An electronic traffic sign had been posted on West Liberty Street seeking information about the incident that resulted in Stewart's death. McGirt said tips received by the department and through Crime Stoppers helped develop information in the case.
While law enforcement agencies used to be able to charge 17-year-olds as adults, therefore making their names available via open record laws, state law changed last year to say 17-year-olds must be charged as juveniles. The Raise the Age law was passed by South Carolina lawmakers in June 2016 and went into effect in July 2019 in the hopes of keeping teenagers out of adult jails, giving those affected an extra year of eligibility for rehabilitative programs and reducing recidivism.
This shooting was one of 11 incidents that resulted in 15 homicides in Sumter County in 2019 and one of nine within city limits. In 2018, there were seven homicides.
There have been arrests made in connection to all 15 deaths now except for the most recent one, which occurred on Nov. 7. when an exchange of gunfire erupted at a home tied to illegal gambling and alcohol sales, killing 57-year-old Florentino Wilson.
Police are still seeking information about a person who showed up at the house with Wilson.
Anyone with information is asked to call the department at (803) 436-2700 or Crime Stoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC. A cash reward may be available for information leading to an arrest.
Tips can also be submitted to Crime Stoppers by logging onto www.P3tips.com and clicking on the "Submit a New Tip" tab or by downloading the new P3 Tips app for Apple and Android devices.
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