3rd man taken into custody by Sumter police after fatal North Purdy shooting


A third man suspected of involvement in a fatal shooting on North Purdy Street on Monday, May 20, turned himself in to law enforcement Friday evening after a news conference earlier Friday naming him as wanted in the case, according to Tonyia McGirt, public information officer for Sumter Police Department.

Di’Mitirus Ta’Lil Reed of Weatherly Court was considered armed and dangerous after the shooting in which an innocent driver was killed Monday afternoon.

Blaine Varner, 59, of Sumter, was a physician assistant for Tandem Health with more than 20 years of experience, according to the Tandem Health website, who was going about his day when a bullet went through his vehicle, fatally wounding him, Sumter Police Chief Russell Roark said during the Friday conference.

The two other men in custody in the shooting are 20-year-old Travis Threll Rembert Jr. of Ashton Mill Drive and 26-year-old Kalvin Dontavious Epps of West Oakland Avenue, and police are asking for information about other passengers in the white GMC truck that was seen in the area during the shooting and later found abandoned. It was reported as having been stolen in the county earlier that day.

Roark said the individuals involved in the shooting were in the middle of illegally selling a firearm and two of those individuals in the truck have not been identified.

“Information gathered by officers indicates the incident began with a planned sale and purchase of a firearm between two of the suspects at a West Oakland Avenue residence,” according to a news release. “During that transaction, a white GMC pickup truck drove by firing shots. The suspects then got in their respective vehicles, with passengers, giving chase through a residential area.”

Officers responded to 9-1-1 calls of shots being fired just after 12:30 p.m. on Monday and found Varner. He was not involved in the fray, according to a news release, but he was struck in the crossfire and crashed into a brick fence on Saratoga Street during the chase. He died the next day at Prisma Health Tuomey.

According to the release, Epps was found in the Magnolia Street area and taken into custody. He was charged with felon in possession of a firearm and possession of marijuana, second offense. On Wednesday, Rembert was taken into custody during a traffic stop. He is charged with murder, possession of a weapon during a violent crime and possession with intent to distribute marijuana. More charges could be filed during the investigation, and the men are being held in the county jail.

“[Varner] didn’t know it, but he left his house that day, and it was his last day,” Roark said. “His last opportunity to tell his wife and his family that he cares for and loves them. His last opportunity to see a sunrise and a sunset. His last opportunity to live.”

If you have information on the shooting, the stolen truck and/or can help identify others involved in the shooting, contact Sumter Police Department immediately at (803) 436-2700. Tips also can be called in to Crime Stoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC or submitted online at P3tips.com or by using the P3tips app that is available for iOS (Apple) or Android devices.

“We do ask the community if you know something, know of somebody that may have some information, please call in,” City of Sumter Mayor David Merchant said during the press conference. “Help get closure for this family and the community.”