Richard Hayes’ voice was shaky but calm.
His wife lay on the bed of a West Ashley home dying from two gunshot wounds. The gunman had vanished just as quickly as he had appeared and may have still been in the house with him and his grandson.
Hayes loaded his gun in the dark while answering a Charleston County dispatcher’s questions as quickly as possible so he could call his daughter and warn her that her estranged husband, who Hayes identified as the shooter, might be coming after her.
“A guy just came into our house and shot us,” Hayes told the dispatcher shortly after 6:30 p.m. Saturday, according to a copy of the 911 tape released Tuesday.
He gave the dispatcher the address on Debbenshire Drive and told his grandson he needed to load the gun.
“Get the police over here,” he then told the dispatcher.
Linda Hayes, 65, lay on the bed bleeding from two gunshot wounds to her side. Hayes told the dispatcher he didn’t know how bad her wounds are before he identified the suspected gunman as Ronald “David” Ratliff, Hayes’ former son-in-law who was just released from jail for assaulting his ex-wife, Hayes’ daughter.
“I’ve got to hang up and call my daughter,” Hayes, 66, told the dispatcher. “He may be going to get her next. I’m hanging up. I’ve got to call my daughter.”
Hayes hung up but would call back within minutes and speak to a second dispatcher.
“A guy, David Ratliff, just came in and shot my wife. He missed me,” Hayes said. “I don’t know if he’s still in the house but we need help quickly. ... Get somebody here, please.”
The first police officer arrived and the line is silent as Hayes unlocked the door to the house. The officer told the dispatcher that EMS can’t come in yet because the scene was not secured.
Hayes told the officer who shot his wife. “He just came in and opened fire,” he said. “We were laying here in bed.”
The tape ends soon after that. Linda Hayes died later that night.
Sheriff’s deputies are still searching for Ratliff.
Hayes on Monday told reporters that he has forgiven Ratliff and urged his former son-in-law to turn himself in before there’s any more violence.
Hayes and his wife drove to the Lowcountry from Florida and were staying at their daughter’s home after attending a birthday party.
The shooting happened just days after Ratliff was released from the Charleston County Detention Center after pleading guilty to an assault charge stemming from a Sept. 20 attack on his estranged wife, Melissity Hayes.
She told authorities that Ratliff had a history of violence and substance abuse.
Richard Hayes told the dispatcher that they knew Ratliff had a problem.
“He just got out of jail,” Hayes said on the phone to the dispatcher. “We tried to tell him he’s got a problem but he wouldn’t listen to us.”