Orangeburg County Sheriff Leroy Ravenell is blaming the father of two of the victims in last month’s deadly shooting in Holly Hill for indirectly causing their deaths.
Ravenell said while 36-year-old Christopher Wright is not the killer, he did put the victims in harm’s way because of the lifestyle that he led. “He placed his children in an environment that was dangerous,” he told reporters in a Friday press briefing. “We can prove that he sold drugs from this location.”
Friday’s briefing came as three more charges were filed against Wright. Wright is facing three counts of unlawful neglect of a child, one count of trafficking crack cocaine, and one count of obstruction of justice. A judge on Friday deferred Wright’s case to a circuit court judge due to the nature of the charges.
Ravenell hinted that investigators believe Wright was the drug-related target when a still-unknown suspect killed four people were found dead inside a Holly Hill home on July 15. The victims have been identified as 7-year-old Shemekia Sanders, 14-year-old Tamara Perry, 28-year-old Krystal Hutto and 50-year-old Jerome Butler. An unidentified eight-year-old boy was also injured, and has been undergoing treatment at a hospital.
Wright is the father of Perry, Sanders, and the 8-year-old. Hutto was his fiancé, investigators said. Wright was arrested a few days after the killings on the drug charges and released on a $30,000 bond.
Ravenell said Wright has since “lawyered up.” “He has from Day One been uncooperative with law enforcement and has lied about this investigation,” the sheriff said Friday. “I believe Mr. Wright knows more than what he’s telling us.” .
The sheriff said Wright knew that something was going to happen and had stopped living there just before the killings, leaving his kids behind. But Wright’s attorney told the magistrate at Friday’s bond hearing that his client has already risked incriminating himself with the information he has given to investigators.
Orangeburg deputies have not identified a suspect in this case, but have named a “person of interest”: 26-year-old Michael Deroaknel Smith Jr.