In gray but stark images, a security camera captured the cold-blooded killing early Saturday of a teen in a parked SUV, investigators who released the video said Tuesday.
On the silent video, a man approaches the sport utility vehicle occupied by 17-year-old Marley Lion. Several seconds pass, and after the sport utility vehicle's alarm and emergency flashers are activated, the man departs. But he comes back into view, and from beside the SUV, with an arm extended, fires multiple shots into the vehicle.
The killing outside Famous Joe's Bar and Grill at 1662 Savannah Highway in West Ashley “was a very horrendous attempted robbery,” Charleston police Detective Richard Burkhardt said at an afternoon press conference. Police Chief Greg Mullen and Mayor Joe Riley appealed to anyone who knows anything about the killing to contact authorities.
“We need the citizens of Charleston's help to bring this awful criminal to justice,” Riley said. He called Lion's killer “an outrageously lawless hoodlum who will harm someone again.”
Before he died from his gunshot wounds, Lion reportedly told police he was shot five times. Mullen refused to discuss the number of shots fired, the type of weapon used or other details, citing the ongoing investigation.
Lion reportedly told police he was attacked by two men, but only one perpetrator is visible on the security video. Mullen said investigators have nothing to substantiate that a second man was involved.
“There is clearly one gunman. That's all that we have seen,” Burkhardt said.
There is a second man seen in the video, but he's not believed to have been a participant in the robbery and shooting, Mullen said. He called the unidentified man who walks through the scene several minutes prior to the shooting, a “person of interest.”
“We would like to interview this man. He is not a suspect,” Mullen said.
Based on scrutiny of the video, the shooter is believed to be a black male, 5-foot-8 to 6-feet tall, with a medium to stocky build. He appears to be wearing a pattern shirt, police said.
Police said the man who walks through the parking lot prior to the shooting appears to be black and wearing a long white T-shirt, white socks and black flip-flops. Both men appear to be in their late teens to later 20s.
The shooting took place about 4 a.m., about 20 minutes after Lion had pulled the SUV into the lot to sleep. The teen told a police officer he was “too intoxicated to drive home,” the police report said.
Mullen said “a lot of rumors and misinformation” have circulated about the murder case and why the recent Academic Magnet High School graduate was in the parked vehicle. Investigators were able to confirm Lion's stated reason for being there, Mullen said.
“All the facts at this time lead us to believe he stopped to sleep and encountered a predator who lives by violence,” Mullen said. “We believe this was an attempted robbery that turned into homicide,” he said.
Police came to the scene after neighbors reported hearing shots fired, Mullen said.
Burkhardt said he's spent the past few days learning everything he could about Lion, and is convinced Lion did nothing to bring about the parking lot incident.
“We have been piecing his last day together and we know how he ended up where he ended up. Marley Lion did absolutely nothing to cause him to be murdered in a parking lot,” Burkhardt said.
He said the entire detective division is working on solving the case and is “following every tip and lead” that can be turned up. “We're doing everything we can do as a police agency to find out who murdered this man. We want to stop this person before they can bring this kind of heartache to another community,” Burkhardt said.
Riley said the killing “offends the sensibility of everyone in the community.” He said, “it's the responsibility of citizens, anyone who might have any information — any idea, a hunch, a rumor they might have heard — to bring this to our police department, so we can bring this violent person to justice,” the mayor said.
Lion's family and friends have been raising money to augment a Crime Stoppers reward of $1,000 for anyone with information leading to Lion's killers, and a fund benefiting Lion's family had raised $6,000 by 2 p.m. Tuesday, with a goal of $10,000.
Reach Edward C. Fennell at 937-5560.