SPARTANBURG COUNTY, SC (WSPA) – The Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office charged five people with the murder of a University of South Carolina Upstate student earlier this year.
Just 3 months shy of his graduation, investigators say Evan Gaines, 22, was shot at Campus Edge Apartments. It happened just less than a mile from U.S.C. Upstate.
Sheriff Chuck Wright says for nearly 8 months leads went cold, but detectives didn’t stop investigating.
“Instead of letting it go and hoping something would surface they just kept pressing the issues,” he said.
Campus Police Chief Klay Peterson says tracking down Gaines’ killer was critical.
“We’ve never had a murder on campus,” Peterson said. “We’ve never had a murder close to campus. This was a first and I pray that it’s the last.”
According to the Sheriff, the first break in the case came when investigators got access to cellphone records.
“There’s been 5 people arrested and charged in this young man’s murder,” Wright said during a press conference on Friday.
Wright says with the help of Richland and Colleton County deputies his investigators arrested Darryl Wayne Cooley, Cainan Keison Gregory Griffin, Douglas Alexander Wright, Jr., Rodriguez Kentavious Marshall and his brother Antonio K. Marshall.
All are charged with murder.
Wright was also charged with possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime. Cooley and the Marshall brothers were also charged with armed robbery.
According to a sheriff’s office news release, Cooley was originally charged with accessory after the act in July and bonded out of jail. Sheriff’s Office officials said the subsequent investigation resulted in new charges against him.
“It’s not going to bring back Evan, but it will bring him justice.” Chief Peterson said.
Investigators say evidence and confessions suggest the shooting that claimed Gaines’ life appears to have started as a robbery.
“I’m not so sure what the reason was, what the motive is,” the Sheriff said. “We had some things said to us about what Mr.Gaines might have been doing in his room. But whatever he was doing doesn’t give anybody the right to take this young man’s life.”
Campus Police Chief Peterson tells 7News after the murder in March, Public Safety reassessed the campus security plan. He says his officers used to only patrol on-campus apartments, but now they also patrol off-campus apartments.
Peterson says that has lead to a drop in criminal activity.
7News reached out to Gaines’ family following the 5 arrests, but have not heard back at this time.