NEWBERRY, S.C. – The shooting death of a black man whose body was dragged for several miles is being investigated as a possible hate crime after a white man was arrested, South Carolina’s state police chief said.
The FBI was in Newberry County in central South Carolina on Wednesday assisting in the investigation of the shooting death of Anthony Hill, 30, State Law Enforcement Division director Reggie Lloyd said.
“We don’t yet have a definitive motive for all this,” Lloyd said.
Hill’s body was found around 4:30 a.m. Wednesday on U.S. Highway 176 and Newberry County sheriff’s deputies followed a trail of blood to the home of Gregory Collins.
For several hours, Collins refused to come out and SLED agents fired tear gas into the home, prompting him to surrender, Lloyd said.
Collins, 19, made a first court appearance Thursday to face a murder charge in the death. No bond was set, Newberry County Magistrate Ron Halfacre said.
Collins did not have a lawyer yet.
Hill died from a single gunshot wound to the head, Newberry County Coroner Craig Newton said.
Hill and Collins worked together at a chicken processing plant in Newberry County, Lloyd said. Neither man had a serious criminal record. There was some other evidence that linked the men that Lloyd did not want to discuss.
“We don’t want to attribute something to Collins that isn’t necessarily true,” Lloyd said. “But out of precaution, given the circumstances, we are investigating the racial angle.”
Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster said Collins and Hill spent most of Tuesday together and were at Collins’ house late Tuesday evening into Wednesday morning when Hill was shot.
Foster said Collins then attached a nylon rope around Hill’s body and began dragging it behind his truck, apparently until the rope snapped several miles later.