Three different fatal shootings rocked Greenville over Labor Day weekend — two security guards were killed at an empty textile plant on Friday, an architect was murdered at home Monday night, and an officer seriously injured at police headquarters hours later.
Now, investigators say all were done by the same man.
Interim Greenville Police Chief Mike Gambrell said 23-year-old Evan Bennett died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound shortly after wounding the officer outside the Greenville County Law Enforcement Center on Monday night. However, investigators said they soon realized that Bennett may have also been the one who killed two security guards at the former Hollingsworth textile equipment last week.
In a press conference Tuesday, Greenville County Sheriff Steve Loftis said Bennett killed Bobby Wood, 65, and Richard Ellison, 53, on Aug. 29. Deputies said Ellison and Wood had been working security at the plant when a newspaper carrier discovered their bodies around 3:30 a.m.
Greenville County Coroner Park Evans said Tuesday that both men were shot in the head with a shotgun. The coroner’s office had previously avoided publicly giving the exact cause of death — saying only that the men had died from “multiple injuries.”
“It appears that this was nothing more than a very unfortunate, senseless thrill killing,” Loftis told reporters.
Around 9:30 p.m. Monday, police said they were called to a home in south Greenville after reports of a shooting. Officers found Gregory Jones, 58, dead from an apparent gunshot wound. Jones worked at JMD Architects and designed the new Baptist Hospital Easley in Powdersville, according to WSPA.
Loftis said a witness (whose identity was not released) told investigators that Jones had confronted his stepson about the security guards’ murders. Loftis said Bennett had casually mentioned shooting the guards in the past, but his relatives did not take him seriously until after they learned about the killings. The witness told officers that Bennett shot his stepfather in the confrontation, then left the house wearing a black tactile vest, black fingerless gloves and camouflage pants.
Gambrell said Bennett arrived at the Law Enforcement Center by 10:20 p.m. Officers said the man tried to enter the lobby, but the doors were locked for the night. The chief said Bennett then fired a shotgun into the front doors. The officers inside called for backup.
The first officer to arrive on the scene immediately confronted Bennett. The other man fired his shotgun at least three times, hitting the officer twice in the side and once in the hand. Gambrell said the officer, whose name has not been released, fired one shot in return but missed. A few minutes later, Bennett turned the shotgun on himself as other officers arrived.
“This has all the symptoms of suicide by cop on it,” the police chief said.
The injured officer is still in the Intensive Care Unit in serious condition, Gambrell said.
Loftis said investigators found a sergeant badge belonging to one of the Hollingsworth guards under Bennett’s mattress. The suspected shooter also had 5 SLED certification cards in his wallet that belonged to the guard, the sheriff said.
Court records show that Bennett had a previous arrest for stalking in 2011, but prosecutors dropped the charge a year later.