The brother of a man who was shot to death in Mount Pleasant this week said Friday he has played sports with one of the teenagers accused in the crime.
“I’ve met this young man,” Tyrone Saunders said at the bail hearing for James Charles Seabrook II, the 17-year-old charged in the Wednesday shooting of Solomon Maurice Ancrum, 21, of North Charleston. “I’ve actually ... played basketball and sports with this young man. ... And it’s just so hard to see that the same friends that he knew could actually do this to him. There was nothing that was that bad that you would have to kill somebody. It’s not even worth it.”
Seabrook and James Deshea Coakley, 19, met about three weeks ago through Coakley’s job at a local restaurant and started hanging out, Coakley’s aunt, Jacqueline Allen, said Friday.
But Coakley’s family didn’t like the new friendship. They warned him against hanging out with Seabrook, who lives a few miles to the south of Coakley’s home in Mount Pleasant’s unincorporated Six Mile area.
Now, both young men stand accused in the shooting death of Ancrum.
Sheriff Al Cannon said Friday that Ancrum drove to the turnaround area on secluded Dingle Road with plans to sell drugs to Seabrook and Coakley. Instead, they robbed him of the narcotics and shot him twice, the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office alleged.
Ancrum had two convictions for possessing marijuana and a pending charge for dealing it, but Cannon wouldn’t say what drug was supposed to change hands Wednesday morning.
All three were behind Ancrum’s 2001 Buick when he was shot once in the left side and once in the left leg, Cannon said.
Police officers later found Ancrum behind the steering wheel. He was dead.
Seabrook lives on McKnight Road, about a mile south of the crime scene.
Deputies who returned to the community Thursday found discarded clothing near McKnight Road. But after shedding the clothes, Cannon said, it’s thought that the men changed their course and ran back toward Coakley’s house on Sam Edwards Road, two blocks north of the scene.
Deputies developed the two suspects through “good old-fashioned investigative work,” Cannon said. The men’s parents learned that their sons were wanted for questioning, he said, and brought them in.
“(The suspects) both cooperated with us and gave statements implicating themselves,” the sheriff said. “(Their parents) don’t believe their sons were involved.”
At Friday’s bail hearing, Elaine Ancrum said her son was not a drug dealer.
“He didn’t sell drugs,” she said. “He might have used it and I have gotten on him about that, but he wasn’t a drug dealer. ... He used drugs, but he didn’t sell no drugs. The ones that killed him, they are his friends. He didn’t sell them no drugs. If he had something, he had something to give to them to smoke but he didn’t sell no drugs.”
Seabrook and Coakley were jailed overnight Thursday after they were questioned earlier in the day.
Bail for each was set at $200,000 on Friday, which includes $50,000 for possession of a firearm in a violent crime, $50,000 for possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number and $100,000 for armed robbery. The pair are also charged with murder, but bail for that would be set in circuit court.
It was Seabrook’s first arrest as an adult in South Carolina.
“My son is not violent,” his father, James Seabrook, said Friday. “This was a surprise to our whole family. We’re just shocked that this happened. He is not a violent person. He goes to work. He does what he has to do.”
Coakley has one misdemeanor conviction for shoplifting.
“He’s not that type of guy,” Allen said of Coakley on Friday. “He doesn’t have it in him to murder someone. He was in the wrong place, at the wrong time and with the wrong person.”
Allen said her nephew had a few struggles early in his life. In February, he was arrested by Mount Pleasant Police Department officers on a charge of shoplifting less than $2,000 in merchandise.
But he had mostly stayed out of trouble, Allen said, as he focused on building a career.
Instead of going out to carouse, Allen said, Coakley often stayed home and played video games with friends. He attended church now and then, she said.
But “the devil stepped in” and threw a wrench into those aspirations, she said. His family has encouraged him to cooperate with the investigation into the death of a man who was a stranger to Coakley, according to his aunt.
“To the Ancrum family, I really express our deepest sympathy,” she said. “I know it’s not going to bring your son back, but I am sorry. We are all really sorry and we will keep you in our prayers.”
Brenda Rindge and Natalie Caula contributed to this report. Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.