Sheriff: Sumter auto shop shooting suspect is a sovereign citizen

Part of group that violently clashes with law enforcement, doesn't believe in our laws


A Moorish sovereign citizen with a combative past against law enforcement is suspected in a fatal shooting of a man at a Sumter County auto repair shop, and authorities are warning he is considered armed, dangerous and still at large.

Sumter County Sheriff’s Office investigators have identified Demetrius Alexander Brown, who fled the scene Saturday and was seen Monday in Jackson County, Georgia, and is being actively searched for by officers in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Texas, all places he has been known to live, Sumter County Sheriff Anthony Dennis said at a news conference Monday afternoon.

Officers responded to Auto Doctors on South Pike Road East on Saturday about 4:30 p.m. to find Sharmine Pack, 34, suffering from “multiple gunshot wounds.” Sumter County Coroner Robbie Baker said Pack was transported to Palmetto Health Tuomey, where he died.

Dennis said the 38-year-old suspect has been under investigation by the sheriff’s office before, has been arrested for burglaries and domestic violence and has been convicted of financial fraud in Sumter County.

“We think this is part of the motive,” he said.

The suspect and victim appear to have known each other. Brown reportedly drove to the auto shop, exchanged words about a transaction over a vehicle with Pack and shot him.

“What’s most disturbing about this incident is that he shot the victim, and the victim fell. Then he stood over the victim and shot him several more times to make sure he killed the victim,” Dennis said. “The nature of this incident, for someone to stand over someone who we believe — Mr. Pack — was begging for his life.”

Moorish sovereign citizens, often called Moors, are people in a belief system that emerged in the ’90s as a spinoff of the intergovernmental sovereign citizens movement that follows the idea that individual people hold sovereignty over local, state and federal laws, governments and authority, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Moors and sovereign citizens historically have violently clashed with law enforcement over their “refusal to obey laws and government regulations.”

They have also been known to conduct “paper terrorism” by committing financial crimes against authorities and governments and sustaining themselves by selling fake legal documents, fraudulent auto insurance claims, fake license plates, counterfeit money and passports and other bogus financial instruments and documents, the SPLC describes.

“They don’t seem to recognize the laws of this country as the ones they should abide by. They have their own laws that they consider to be governed by,” Dennis said.

He said the presence and clashing with sovereign citizens in Sumter County has “become more frequent now than ever before.”

“We are seeing more and more sovereign citizens here in Sumter County and I think in all of South Carolina,” he said. “Our officers have been trained in how to deal with them. We use extreme caution with them They don’t seem to hesitate in identifying themselves.”

Dennis said it appears to investigators that Brown had sold Pack a car.

Brown has lived in Lee County and at least seven locations in Sumter County, where he has had combative arrests before with county and city deputies.

When Jackson County — northeast of Atlanta in Braseltown — authorities identified Brown about 2 a.m. Monday in a white Toyota Camry, he initiated a chase and escaped, Dennis said. That was a different car, though, than the one he is thought to have been in on Saturday.

Brown should be considered dangerous and violent.

“He’s proven what type of crime he commits,” Dennis said. “If anybody should come into contact with him, we ask you call law enforcement. My belief is he will not hesitate to hurt anyone.”

The sheriff’s office is also asking for assistance from the U.S. Marshals Service and is making Brown’s whereabouts a “nationwide alert.”