NEWBERRY COUNTY — Two random shootings within three days of one another and a house fire that was ruled accidental could be related to the July 20 shooting death of a 19-year-old Newberry man at a block party on Rikard School Road in Prosperity, according to local law enforcement.
Newberry Police Lt. Roy McClurkin said officials believe the two shootings — one on July 21 and one on July 23 — are connected to the shooting death of Zemeckis Monteco Devante Houston, who died after being shot in the head around 2:20 a.m. July 20.
McClurkin said people connected to the murder investigation live in the areas where the two shootings were reported but the people in the homes that were shot at are not connected to the July 20 shooting.
The Newberry County Sheriff’s Office is partnering with the city and helping continue the investigation.
Chief Deputy Todd Johnson with the NCSO said they are taking another look at a fire that occurred early July 21 on Wye Street in Prosperity.
The Prosperity Fire Department originally ruled the fire an accident, but has decided to reopen the investigation in light of the recent events.
“We are still investigating, but the home belonged to a relative of the guy arrested in the Prosperity shooting,” Sheriff Lee Foster said.
Jonathan Sentel Dominick, 29, of 623 Caldwell St., was charged with murder after he was released from the hospital for treatment of a gunshot wound he received in the incident.
The NCSO said there is no indication Dominick was shot by Houston but investigators said the shooting was related to an ongoing dispute between the two.
According to one Newberry City Police Department incident report, a woman told police that she heard what sounded like three gunshots coming from the back of her Caldwell Street home at 4:51 a.m. July 21 while she was in bed. The woman said she did not call the police or notice anything out of the ordinary.
However, she later found a hole in the bathroom door from a bullet that apparently traveled through the outside screen and through the window and bathroom door before lodging in the frame.
An officer took photos and collected the bullet from the frame. The perimeter of the home was searched, but no shell casings were found.
The second report, dated July 23, said city police officers responded to a residence in Nance Forest Apartments in reference to someone discharging a firearm into a residence. A woman told police she saw someone fire a gun at her daughter’s bedroom window.
Officers found seven bullet holes in the front bedroom window, six of which struck two closets. The seventh bullet hit a coat hanger and fell into a trash bag that contained miscellaneous clothing. The bullet fragments were recovered from the trash bag.
No shell casings were found, according to the report.
Newberry Police Chief Dennis Brown and McClurkin said their department has directive patrols saturating the areas of Caldwell Street and Nance Forest Apartments, as well as the West End area to let residents know they are taking a proactive approach to the situation.
He also advised residents to call 911 if they see suspicious vehicles in the area.
“We’ve received positive feedback from residents in the area for taking these positive steps,” Brown said. “Roy has done an excellent job with this and being proactive.”
McClurkin said they will continue to update the public as more information becomes available.
“We want the public to understand we will do everything we can to keep their information as confidential as possible,” Brown said. “We have to stop this.”
Law enforcement also is investigating the actions of the people at the party. Deputies were dispatched to the location of the party in response to a complaint and heard gunshots as they approached the crowd, estimated to be over 100 people.
“We ask that anyone with information please come forward. Since it was such a tightly packed group, we feel sure someone saw what happened,” Foster said last week.
Anyone with information about the case can contact the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office at 803-321-2211.