Sheriff: Custody dispute led Greenwood man to shoot and kill five people, then himself (has video)

  • Posted: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 6:29 a.m., Updated: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 3:42 p.m.
Bryan Eugene Sweatt, 27, of Greenwood, shot and killed five people in a Greenwood family before fatally shooting himself, authorities said.

GREENWOOD, S.C. -- A South Carolina man in a custody dispute with a onetime girlfriend broke into her parents’ home and fatally shot the woman, her parents and two children, the sheriff said. The man then killed himself.

Investigators found the bodies of six people ranging in age from 9 to 51 when they responded Tuesday to a call from a man who said he was thinking about hurting himself.

Greenwood County Sheriff Tony Davis identified the man who fired the shots as 27-year-old Bryan Sweatt. Davis said Sweatt felt that the woman he had dated wasn’t allowing him to see their infant child often enough. The infant was not among the dead.

Investigators believe Sweatt broke into the home and waited for the victims to return, Davis said, adding that the shootings looked like executions.

The victims were Richard Fields, 51; his wife, Melissa Fields, 49; their daughter Chandra Fields, 26; and two of the couple’s grandchildren who lived with them: William Robinson, 9; and Tariq Robinson, 11.

SWAT team members who entered the house found the bodies in three different rooms.

“Once you see a grisly scene like this it never leaves you,” Davis said.

Sweatt has a lengthy arrest record that dates back nearly a decade, according to state police records. Most of his charges were related to property crimes, such as burglary or forgery, although he was arrested once on aggravated assault charges.

He was supposed to be in court Tuesday on a burglary charge, Davis said. The sheriff didn’t have many details about the hearing, but said Sweatt faced up to 30 years if he was convicted.

In the morning, yellow police tape surrounded the one-story home on a rural stretch of road south of Greenwood, a city of about 23,000 in northwestern South Carolina.

Officers first went to the home in Greenwood County after receiving a call from a man who said he was thinking about hurting himself, authorities said. Davis said while police were on their way, a neighbor called 911 saying four children from that address had arrived at her house and told her a shot had been fired. He said the children remained at her house.

After about an hour and “several unsuccessful attempts” by officers to make contact with anyone in the home, the SWAT team entered and discovered the bodies, authorities said.

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Associated Press writers Meg Kinnard and Jeffrey Collins in Columbia and Lisa J. Adams in Atlanta contributed to this report.

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