CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - A second suspect in the shooting death of a Coastal Carolina University student on February 26 turned himself into authorities Friday afternoon, officials confirmed.
Conway resident Stephon Mclain, Jr., 22, was taken into custody Wednesday by officers of the Mansfield, Ohio Police Department, according to a news release from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division. He was wanted in connection with the shooting death of 19-year-old CCU sophomore Anthony Darnell Liddell at an off-campus housing complex.
On March 1, 20-year-old Marquis Spencer McDonald turned himself in to authorities shortly after being announced as a suspect in the shooting, officials stated.
A warrant has been issued against Mclain for one count of murder. He waived extradition and was brought by SLED agents to J. Reuben Long Detention Center in Horry County.
According to the narrative information on Mclain's arrest warrant, McDonald arranged to meet with Liddell at a predetermined location, and evidence reveals that McDonald and Mclain fired a 40-caliber handgun, striking Liddell three times, resulting in his death, the warrant stated.
According to the warrant, historical data reveals that McDonald and Mclain were together directly before and after the shooting. McDonald admitted to police that he was present during the shooting and stated that "Black" did the shooting, the warrant stated.
A police official stated that witness interviews and cell data collected indicate Mclain is known as "O-Black" and "Ohio," and the number listed for "O-Blake" in recorded cell data used by McDonald was registered to Mclain.
The first suspect, 20-year-old Marquis Spencer McDonald, was taken into police custody for shooting death Liddell shortly after he was announced as a suspect on Friday, March 1, Horry County Sheriff's officials said.
McDonald surrendered to the CCU Department of Public Safety and SLED with a family member at a Conway gas station mid-afternoon Friday in connection with Liddell's shooting death, SLED spokesperson Thom Berry said Friday evening at a news conference.
A warrant has been issued, charging him with one count of murder, a felony that carries a sentence of 30 years to death, Berry said. He was also charged with one count of possession of a weapon during the commission of a crime.
McDonald, who is not a student at CCU, was questioned and booked into J. Reuben Long Detention Center the night of Friday, March 1.
McDonald was denied bond during his first court appearance Sunday, March 3, and made the following statement to the court: "This is one of my best friends that got killed. And he [Liddell] saved my life. And if it weren't for him, he'd be in here, and I'd be dead."
McDonald's bond hearing could be as early as April. To separate the two suspects, Jail Director Tom Fox confirms McDonald was transferred to the Florence County Detention Center in Effingham. He said in court that he will hire his own attorney.
McDonald's relationship to Liddell is being developed as part of the ongoing investigation, as is the involvement of others in the shooting, Berry added.
"This was not a random event," Berry assured the public. "Something that happened between two individuals that just happened to be on CCU's campus."
SLED is responsible for the investigation, but Berry acknowledged the assistance of other agencies, including the CCU Department of Public Safety and the US Marshals. He also credited interviews with people in and around campus; investigators talked to a number of people who knew McDonald or had some connection to him.
Anthony Darnell Liddell, 19, a sophomore student from Bennettsville, died Tuesday, February 26, as a result of a shooting incident at University Place residence hall, CCU spokeswoman Martha Hunn confirmed.
CCU law enforcement and SLED officers worked with various agencies since the Tuesday night shooting to gather information that led them to naming McDonald as the suspect in the shooting.
He says investigators made tremendous headway since the night of Wednesday, February 27 by speaking to people who were near the scene, or who might have information.
Hundreds of friends and family members came out for the funeral of 19-year-old Anthony TJ Liddell Saturday, March 2.
Pews were packed with hundreds of friends and family to mourn the loss of the Coastal Carolina University sophomore shot and killed February 26. The minister said that Saturday was a dark day, regardless of the sun's decision to shine. But he said friends and family will help shine a light on a dark time.
"Love is above all, a gift of oneself," he said. "These words describe our TJ."
The services lasted around an hour and half. Part of the church reserved for law enforcement involved in Liddell's murder case, and for students from Coastal Carolina University.
The first 911 call came in at about 7:22 p.m. Tuesday, February 26; campus police and Conway Police responded immediately and found the victim, who was transported to a nearby hospital, Hunn said.
Four calls were made to emergency dispatch from University Place shortly after the shooting Tuesday night. The recordings catch the confusion, panic, and even fear as students tried to aid Anthony Liddell as he lay on the ground.
"I mean, he's laying on the ground and he's conscious," one caller said. "His eyes are open. He's breathing."
A complete recording of the 911 calls is accessible at the top of this story.
Campus officials alerted students with an 'active shooter alert' via text message and e-mail. The message asked students to remain in their dorm rooms and classrooms.
The first alert issued by staff at the college at about 8 p.m. said a shooting incident occurred at University Place, an off-campus housing facility for students. A second alert was sent moments later to ensure that the shooting incident was "not ongoing," but the search for the suspect was continuing.
The victim was brought to Grand Strand Regional Medical Center on the evening of February 26. Security was out patrolling the exits and entrances while WMBF News crews were there at about 9 p.m. More than a handful of CCU students were waiting inside the waiting room of the trauma center.
Horry County Deputy Coroner Darris Fowler says Anthony Liddell died in the hospital at 8:50 p.m. from a fatal gunshot wound. The bullet struck his vital organs and caused major hemorrhaging, he said, but the coroner could not comment on how many times the student was shot after the autopsy. Police investigators believe he was shot three times, according to reports.
Coastal Carolina University's Office of Counseling Services organized a Candlelight Vigil for the community of students and faculty, held at 6 p.m. on the night of Thursday, February 28. The vigil was held in the Edwards Courtyard, located in the center of the Robin W. and Thomas W. Edwards College of Humanities and Fine Arts building, and was open to the public.
President DeCenzo began the vigil with his remarks, and an open microphone was be provided for students and anyone else in attendance who wished to share their memories of Anthony. The university's gospel choir led praise and worship before Preston McKever-Floyd gave a closing prayer.
More than a hundred students, faculty, and friends met in a small courtyard to share their favorite memories of 19-year old Liddell, including his old roommate, and even those who didn't know him, but felt the need to share their voice.
"I know what it's like to lose a family member to gun violence, and I wanted to be of comfort to my family which is coastal, the chanticleers," said CCU student Malorie Williams. "We have a purpose and we're here for a reason and I don't want anyone to come to our campus or where we live and try and stop us from that purpose."
After sharing their memories, students and people in the crowd lit candles and held hands while a choir sang.
After the ceremony was over, several of those who came to the vigil spent some time writing messages to Liddell on pieces of paper. A school official says she would take those messages and share them with Liddell's family and friends when she spoke at his funeral.
Grief counseling services were made available to students, said CCU spokeswoman Martha Hunn.
"Anyone who knows that this has happened is already, I'm sure, is already very concerned and saddened by it," Hunn said Wednesday morning. "Any time you have an incident like this anywhere, and particularly on a university campus, it's something that saddens you and you have to step right into place and do everything you can to make your campus safe, and that's what's going on here."
CCU President David DeCenzo released the following statement to students via e-mail the morning of Wednesday, February 27:
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Anthony Liddell. Tragedies such as these anywhere in our society are senseless. Precious loss of life at such an early age affects us all. Our primary goal is to ensure the safety and security of our students. We will continue to do all that we can with all the resources necessary to make sure that our students are safe and secure. We only pray that an event like this never happens on our campus or any college campus again."
The State Law Enforcement Division has taken charge of the investigation.
SLED spokesman Thom Berry said, "In the case of an on campus death by statue, SLED is the lead agency in the investigation and that's why SLED was brought in."
Berry stressed the importance of investigators getting on the ground and following any leads that come up quickly. "During that time memories are fresh in people's minds and that gives us the opportunity to gain that information that we can use not only just for information but to develop leads and to give us something that we can work with."
Investigators met with those near the scene and others with possible information on the shooting; Solicitor Jimmy Richardson said the goal with meeting them is to assist in coming up with an arrest warrant.
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