MOUNT PLEASANT -- As police closed in around him, former North Charleston Mayor Bobby Kinard shot himself in the head early Friday after wounding a man he found with his estranged wife, authorities said.
Police pulled over Kinard's Chevy pickup truck within minutes of a shooting at his wife's apartment on Wando View Lane in Edgewater Plantation. When officers approached the truck, they found Kinard slumped in a pool of blood. He had a gunshot wound to his head and a revolver in his right hand, according to a police report.
Kinard, 64, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Susan Kinard, his wife and law partner, said her husband had been very depressed in the past year and was seeing a therapist. He was struggling to deal with his experiences in the Vietnam War, and that was compounded by concern for his son, Robert, an Army reservist serving in Afghanistan, she said.
"He was a good, decent, honest, wonderful man who loved his family more than anybody I ever knew,"
she said. "He just had a horrible time in the last year dealing with Vietnam and he couldn't get over it."
News of Kinard's death stunned friends and colleagues of the controversial former mayor, who served from 1991 to 1994. Mayor Keith Summey ordered flags in the city be flown at half-staff. He called Kinard a personal friend and pledged to give him all the honor due a former mayor.
Kinard showed up at his wife's apartment shortly before midnight, police said. A private investigator he had hired to trail his wife already was outside, videotaping. Kinard pulled out an extra key and went in, police said.
Susan Kinard, 49, told police she and Terry Portier, 50, were sleeping when her husband suddenly appeared. Kinard grabbed his wife, yanked her out of bed and pulled her from the room, police said.
Kinard then turned on Portier and shot him twice in the shoulder, his wife said. "It was pretty terrifying. One second ago I was sound asleep and the next he was shooting Terry," she said. "I pushed his arms down and began pushing him backward until I pushed him out the front door."
Bobby Kinard left and drove off. Minutes later, police pulled over his truck at Wando Park Boulevard and Long Point Road. Officers shouted for him to turn off the vehicle but got no response. They approached the truck, found Kinard unresponsive and smashed a window to get in, a report states.
Along with the revolver, officers found a box of ammunition on the passenger seat and a second gun in the center console, according to a report.
Portier was rushed to Medical University Hospital after the shooting at the apartment, but officials there would not disclose his condition. Earlier in the day, police reported him to be in stable condition.
The private investigator, retired North Charleston police officer Tommy Blackwood, told police that Kinard had been separated from his wife for about three weeks and had purchased the apartment for her. When reached by The Post and Courier, Blackwood confirmed he had been hired by Kinard, an old friend, but he declined to say more.
Susan Kinard disputed Blackwood's account. She said she got the apartment herself and had been living there with her 16-year-old daughter for longer than three weeks, though she couldn't recall exactly how long. Moving there was part of a therapist-approved "safety plan," she said. She didn't tell Kinard where she was staying, nor did he have an extra key. She suspects he took a key from her daughter, she said.
The safety plan came about after Kinard made statements that suggested he was a danger to himself and others, his wife said. Still, they were working on their 20-year marriage and continued to practice law together. She said he had no reason to have her followed because he saw her every day.
Susan Kinard said Portier is a friend from Kansas and that her husband was aware he was spending the night. She said one detail in the police report is incorrect. The two were in separate bedrooms. The two were not romantically involved, she said.
"Bobby didn't have to follow me or videotape anything," she said. "There was no secrecy about this."
Bobby Kinard was a complex figure, a patriotic, civic-minded man known for both his friendly, caring nature and his fiery temper, impatience and unfiltered commentary. He served as North Charleston's second mayor. With his pet pig, Harley Dude, at his side, Kinard presided over a turbulent period marked by some very public feuds with City Council members.
"There wasn't anything that the council could do to a mayor that they didn't do to me," he once said.
Kinard exchanged physical threats with councilmen, some of whom he referred to as pipsqueaks and clowns. He also was stripped of his powers during a City Council meeting. He finally resigned after his relationship with council soured beyond repair.
North Charleston City Council members Dorothy Williams and Sam Hart, who served with Kinard, called him a friend who didn't bite his tongue.
"If he threw a brick, it was going to hit you," Hart said. "You knew where he stood. He would say what was on his mind. He had the city of North Charleston at heart. He just wanted the best for the city when he was mayor."
Williams called him "a down-to-earth sweetheart" who cared about people and didn't hide his feelings. "He didn't bite his tongue. He told it like it was. He didn't care if you were white, black, purple or green. He was fair." she said. "This is very tragic. I will always remember him and love him."
John Bourne, North Charleston's founder and first mayor, called Kinard's death a "tragic situation."
In addition to political and legal work, Kinard, a former helicopter machine-gunner, served as chairman of the effort to create a Lowcountry monument to Vietnam veterans, a generation of soldiers who came home to a mixed welcome in a country divided by the war.
He spearheaded the effort to raise $60,000 for the sculpture, which was dedicated in 1986 with a ceremony that included the Navy Band, a 21-gun salute, a C-141 cargo plane flyover and a color guard with representatives from the different military branches. The statue, which stood at North Charleston City Hall for 20 years, was moved to the roundabout lawn at Patriots Point in March 2008.
Kinard was born in Charleston and graduated from North Charleston High School in 1964. He graduated from The Citadel in 1972 and the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1975. He was admitted to the South Carolina Bar in 1975.
He was in the Air Force from 1966 to 1970 and served in Vietnam from 1966 to 1969. He served in the S.C. House from 1976 to 1980 and was chairman of the Charleston County legislative delegation from 1978 through 1980. He served as chief municipal judge for the city of North Charleston from 1981 through 1988 and was a prosecuting attorney for the city of Hanahan.
In 1995, he and his wife moved to the Isle of Palms and returned to the full-time practice of law from their Mount Pleasant office, according to his law firm's website.
Kinard is survived by his wife and three children. The Post and Courier confirmed Friday that Kinard's son in Afghanistan had been notified before posting the story online.
Andy Paras and Brian Hicks also contributed to this report. Reach Glenn Smith at email@example.com or 937-5556.
W. Robert Kinard
May 29, 1946: Born in Charleston.1964: Graduates from North Charleston High School.1966-1970: Serves in Vietnam as a helicopter machine-gunner with the Air Force.1972: Graduates from The Citadel with a B.A. in history.1975: Graduates from USC law school with a J.D.1976-80: Serves in the S.C. House of Representatives.1978: Chairman, Charleston County legislative delegation.1980: Republican nominee for 9th Circuit solicitor.1981-88: Chief municipal court judge, city of North Charleston.June 13, 1991: Beats five-term incumbent John E. Bourne Jr. to become second North Charleston mayor.July 11, 1991: Sworn in as North Charleston mayor.Jan. 28, 1994: Announces he will not seek a second term as mayor.April 6, 1994: Resigns as mayor, saying his relationship with city attorney and council is "untenable."1995: Kinard moves to Isle of Palms and returns to full-time law practice.