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Fort Mill man killed after pointing gun at York County deputies

Jonathan McFadden
jmcfadden@heraldonline.com
house
- Jonathan McFadden, The Herald
York County Deputies responded to this house on Lurecliff Place off Pleasant Road in Fort Mill to conduct a well-being a check prior to the deadly shooting.

FORT MILL A Fort Mill man who deputies allege was suicidal died early Tuesday after he pointed a gun at York County Sheriff’s deputies, who shot and killed him as he sat in his car, authorities say.

Three deputies were sent to a home at 1220 Lurecliff Place, off Pleasant Road, at about 12:30 a.m. when Kathy Michelle Culp informed police that her son, James Calvin Youngblood, threatened to harm himself, according to a sheriff’s report.

Deputies went to the house but were unable to find anyone there, even after going inside through an unlocked back door, the report states. Officers left the house and called Culp, who was unable to provide police with any other locations that Youngblood, 28, could be found.

As deputies were leaving, Youngblood, driving a red Toyota Corolla, pulled into the driveway, the report states. Deputies began speaking with Youngblood, who refused to get out of the car. As they were speaking, deputies say Youngblood became “irrational” and made threats to harm himself if deputies approached him.

Youngblood then “concealed his hands,” the report states, and refused to comply with deputies’ verbal commands. He pulled a pistol and pointed it towards deputies, “creating imminent fear and forcing deputies to fire.”

Youngblood was pronounced dead at the scene, said York County Coroner Sabrina Gast, who would not say where or how many times he was shot. The State Law Enforcement Division is investigating the shooting. None of the deputies were injured, said sheriff’s spokesman Trent Faris.

The two officers directly involved in the shooting – Sgt. Nathan Clark, 33, and Deputy Todd Zeigler, 29 – have been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. Clark has been with the sheriff’s office for nine years, and Zeigler has been a deputy for six, officials said.

“Our heart goes out to the family of the victim,” Sheriff Bruce Bryant said. “The last thing we want to happen is what happened. It’s one of those things officers pray never happens.”

Tuesday morning, the area near the front of the house was cordoned off with yellow crime scene tape and investigators combed the site. Lurecliff Place was mostly silent, aside from school buses picking up neighborhood children.

Jeanne Sikes said the area, where she’s lived for 35 years, is mostly quiet and peaceful. She could only recall a home invasion several years ago, but said, “it was so long ago, I don’t even remember when it was.”

Deputies have not said why they think Youngblood was in the neighborhood. His last address is listed as a Fort Mill home on Merritt Road, off Springfield Parkway. Grieving family members gathered there Tuesday evening. In tears, Culp said her son “was very much well-loved.” She said she received more than 50 Facebook messages from people who wrote Youngblood will be missed.

He “was very well-liked and a very loveable person,” she said. “I would not wish this on any mother. You don’t know what it’s like to bury a child.”

Court records show that felony charges were pending against Youngblood after deputies accused him last year of assaulting his girlfriend, who he allegedly hit in the forehead with a pistol some days before they were in a car accident near Carowinds. State troopers charged him with driving too fast for conditions. His girlfriend, then 23, had “broken skin” on her forehead, where she told deputies Youngblood pistol-whipped her at their Rock Hill apartment.

Deputies found old and fresh bruises on her body, though she declined medical attention. She showed deputies angry text messages Youngblood allegedly sent her, and allowed them to listen to his “vulgar” voice messages on her phone.

Youngblood was charged with criminal domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature, but was released on a $50,000 bond the same day.

12th officer-involved shooting in S.C.

Youngblood’s death is the 12th officer-involved shooting reported in South Carolina this year, according to the State Law Enforcement Division. Three of those shootings have been reported in York County. Since 2006, there have been seven documented incidents of officer-involved shootings by York County law enforcement agencies.

“Don’t get too excited about the fact that you have a cluster of shootings,” said David Klinger, a criminology professor and police use of force expert at the University of Missouri St. Louis. “People need to look at each incident by itself and judge it by itself. It could, just out of the blue, there were three situations where ... it was necessary for police to use deadly force to protect themselves and the public.”

Use-of-force policies allow officers to shoot suspects if they deem there is an imminent and credible threat to their life or safety. That includes when suspects point guns at officers, Klinger said. And, unless it is “patently obvious” that the gun is a fake, officers have the right to shoot.

Whether deputies Clark and Zeigler were justified in shooting Youngblood will not be determined until SLED completes its investigation and turns over its findings to York County prosecutors, who will determine if criminal charges should be filed.

Factors considered in the investigation, Klinger said, might include whether the officers created a situation they had to shoot themselves out of, and what tactics they used when responding to the incident.

“Always,” he said, “the goal is to stop the threat.”

— The Herald’s Rachel Southmayd contributed

Officer-involved shootings reported in York Co. since 2009:

2009 : Police shot and killed 15-year-old Yvette Williams, who robbed a Rock Hill neighborhood beauty supply store and then pointed a gun at officers who tried to stop her. Police later realized that the firearm was a BB gun.

2010 : Tymon Wells, a convicted felon, shot Officer Will Reap of the county’s Multijurisdictional Drug Enforcement Unit in the legs while Reap was trying to serve a drug warrant on him at an Arlington Avenue home in Rock Hill. Reap fired back in self-defense, and one of those bullets went through a wall and struck Rock Hill Police Officer Trista Baird, who had went around the house to prevent anyone else from escaping, in the wrist. Wells is serving 23 years in a federal prison after his 2011 conviction on several drug charges.

2011 : York County Sheriff’s deputies shot and killed burglary suspect Larry Adams after he fired a gun at K-9 officers chasing him. Just two weeks earlier, deputies shot and killed Franklin White, 39, suspected of killing his girlfriend in Gaston County, N.C., when he jumped into a car and then fired at police at a mobile home park near Lesslie Highway.

2014 : In January, York County Sheriff’s deputies provided cover for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officers serving a warrant on an armed robbery suspect who opened fire. No deputies actually fired their weapons. A month later, Deputy Terrance Knox fired at Bobby Canipe, 70, while he reached for a cane in the bed of his truck during a traffic stop outside Clover. Authorities have said Knox thought Canipe was grabbing a long-barrel weapon. On Tuesday, James Calvin Youngblood allegedly pointed a gun at deputies performing a welfare check in Fort Mill after receiving calls about a suicidal man at 1220 Lurecliff Place.

Jonathan McFadden •  803-329-4082
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