3 arrested in connection to USC Upstate student’s death

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SPARTANBURG CO., S.C. (WSPA) – It’s been a little more than two months since a Spartanburg County college student was shot and killed and, now, we know three men are facing charges.

On Monday, 7 News heard from the victim’s family about the update in the murder investigation.

“December 21 was the worst call that I’d ever received in my life, saying my baby was shot and did not make it,” Rodderick Sparks’ aunt Samantha Copeland said.

Samantha Copeland told 7 News she never expected the last phone call she had with her nephew Rodderick Sparks to be the last.

“I spoke with him that night and he stated that he had to have a paper done around 10,” she said.

But, instead, it was around 10 p.m. that deputies responded to a shooting at an apartment complex on Pinegate Drive, near USC Upstate.

According to the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office, Rodderick Sparks was shot in the back, through a door.

“This young man was 23-years-old. He didn’t deserve this. He did not deserve this,” Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright said. “He was a kid trying to better himself.”

Sparks was a student at USC Upstate. His family said he was studying Business Management.

“He called me on the first of December, and he said ‘All of my grades came up. I’ll graduate in May.’ We won’t see that,” Copeland said.

Three men have since been arrested in connection to Sparks’ death.

Sheriff Wright says 19-year-old Tyshawn Jordan fled the state after the crime. He was arrested at a home in Massachusetts and has been charged with murder, possession of a weapon during a violent crime, and discharging a firearm into a dwelling.

Marquese Tart and Trajan Mack were charged with accessory after the fact.

“Now, we can have a little peace that my nephew’s killer is not on the loose or this could happen to another family,” Copeland said.

Sheriff Wright said the motive behind the shooting is still unclear.

“It doesn’t really matter to me what the cause was,” Sheriff Wright said. “The issue is we’ve lost a young man, who was in the prime of his life, who shouldn’t have been done that way.”

“I’m not up here to paint a perfect picture of Rodderick, because I live there and he lives here. I can’t tell you what was going on, but I do know that he was perfect to me,” Copeland added.

Sparks’ aunt told 7 News she’s just grateful their family now has some answers.

“There are a lot of families out there who are wondering who killed their loved one,” she said. “I don’t have to worry about that anymore.”

According to an incident report, evidence at the scene suggested illegal narcotics may have been involved.

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