General Tso’s chicken might have spared Daniel Simmons’ young son from seeing a fatal shooting Wednesday in North Charleston.
That afternoon, Simmons had been repairing his dock that juts into a pond outside his Ward Avenue mobile home.
At about 5:30 p.m., he and his son took a break to warm up leftover Chinese food.
Eight minutes later, a single gunshot rang out, and a sport utility vehicle crashed into a corner of their home.
“I heard a pop,” Simmons said Thursday as he resumed his handiwork with a circular saw. “Then my trailer just shook.”
Police said 21-year-old Akeen Jamal Ladson of Angel Court was fatally shot as he rode in a Ford Expedition, which then dented Simmons’ home. The homicide, which was said to be drug-related, was the first of 2013 in North Charleston.
Ladson and the man accused of firing the gun that killed him had survived shootings in past years.
Jalann Lee Williams, 20, of Stall Road in North Charleston, and Robert Mitchell II, 33, of Yeamans Hall Road in Hanahan, were arrested in the slaying. Both face a murder charge, and Williams faces an additional count of possessing a firearm during a violent crime.
Williams has convictions for unlawful possession of a pistol and burglary. He also faces an attempted murder charge in a February 2011 home invasion on Dunlap Street near North Charleston.
In that incident he was shot three times in a home where deputies found more than 9 ounces of marijuana.
Two months later, Williams posted a $100,000 bail. Last fall he was arrested again on drug-distribution charges, so on Jan. 14 prosecutors filed documents to revoke Williams’ bail, records show, but the motion had not yet been heard in court.
Mitchell had spent more than 10 years in a Florida prison on convictions for attempted second-degree murder, robbery and fleeing police.
Ladson had no known arrest history, but he had been the victim of a shooting once before. Police said he suffered four bullet wounds in July.
A suspect from that incident remained jailed Wednesday, when Ladson went to the mobile home park at 6852 Ward Ave. to conduct a drug transaction, according to North Charleston police spokesman Spencer Pryor. Officials have not said what led to the violence.
After he heard the shot, Simmons dialed 911 and scrambled to his doorway, then to the SUV. Ladson was slumped over the center console. He had been shot in the face.
“There was so much blood,” he said. “He was gasping for air.” Simmons saw the young man take his last breath.
Officers arrived to the sight of the distraught SUV driver, a woman, speaking on a cellphone. Three of the SUV’s doors were ajar. The suspects were thought to have been rear passengers.
Witnesses reported seeing two men running toward the Willow Lake apartment complex adjacent to the property. They were wearing black hooded sweatshirts and cargo pants, Pryor said. One had a shaved head, and the other had short twists in his hair.
Ladson had died by the time police arrived at the scene, which is just east of Charleston International Airport.
At the time of Wednesday’s shooting, he was still recovering from being shot four times on July 26 under similar circumstances near Oak Leaf and Northside drives.
Court documents stated that Ladson got into a car with three other occupants. A passenger pulled out a handgun and used it to hit Ladson.
During a fight for the weapon, it went off, police said. Ladson suffered two bullet wounds to the chest and one to each arm.
North Charleston officers arrested 21-year-old Jamal Stephon Base of Patriot Boulevard in connection with the July incident. Ladson identified him in a photo lineup, affidavits stated.
Base was still behind bars Thursday without a chance to post bail.
Simmons, the Ward Avenue resident, was shaken by Wednesday’s incident that rattled his residence.
As Simmons sawed boards and spoke of the ordeal, his wife called friends and recounted seeing their home on television news.
And it wasn’t the first time gunfire disturbed Simmons’ day. About a year ago, he said, a neighbor fatally shot himself. Simmons found the body.
“I’m just glad I came in to fix something to eat,” he said about Wednesday’s episode, “because that’s when everything went outlandish.”