Moments after several gunshots sounded Tuesday at Charleston’s Martin Park, a teen wearing latex gloves jumped in a friend’s waiting car and proclaimed “I got him,” authorities said.
Charleston police raced to the area and found 22-year-old Rhakym Capers lying face-down in a baseball dugout in the park with several gunshot wounds at 3:50 p.m., not far from where a group of frightened children had been swimming in a city pool.
Capers died a short time later at Medical University Hospital, making him the second person slain in his family this year. His older brother, Antonio McCullough, was gunned down in North Charleston in March, their mother said.
As officers swarmed the area around Martin Park, a witness came forward and told them of a man he’d seen running from the crime scene and jumping into a white car that sped off. The witness provided a description of the vehicle and a partial tag number, police said, and officers stopped a matching car a short time later.
From there, arrest affidavits said, the scene played out this way:
A passenger in the car took off running, leaving 17-year-old Kareem McPherson of Grove Street behind the wheel. Investigators questioned McPherson, who named Sequoia McKinnon, 17, of North Charleston as the passenger who bolted.
McPherson also told them that he had driven McKinnon to Aiken and Line streets a short time earlier and that his friend had set off on foot from there. Gunshots boomed and McKinnon came back running, with gloves on his hands, and jumped in the car, ordering McPherson to take off, McPherson told police.
As they sped away, McPherson stated, his friend made a phone call and said, “I got him Unc. I got him.”
McPherson also told police he saw McKinnon holding a silver-colored firearm before he bolted from the car.
Investigators charged McPherson with murder and failure to stop for blue lights. He is being held without bail in the Cannon Detention Center.
Warrants for murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime have been issued for McKinnon, who remained at large Wednesday night, police spokesman Charles Francis said.
Neither teen has a prior criminal record in South Carolina, according to State Law Enforcement Division records.
McPherson’s Facebook page has several photos of him posing with bundles of cash and flashing hand signals. One photo also shows a wad of bills next to what looks like small bags of marijuana.
Dressed in a striped jail jumpsuit, McPherson appeared more subdued during a bail hearing Wednesday in which he said nothing of note.
The victim, Capers, was well-known to police and had a criminal record dating back five years. He had been convicted of crack and powder cocaine possession, crack cocaine distribution and giving false information to police. He also had pending charges of marijuana possession, failure to stop for blue lights, driving under suspension, failure to appear in court and credit card theft, according to SLED records.
Outside bond court, Capers’ mother expressed anger over his killing and the unsolved slaying of his brother in March. She admonished the killers for taking her sons’ lives “like dirty dogs” and demanded that police find all of the men responsible for the two deaths. She also questioned whether the two killings were connected.
McCullough, 25, was shot to death ambush-style while he was on his way to visit an acquaintance at about 10 p.m. March 20. Authorities said McCullough was jumped by two men who emerged from the end of Wales Court in Collins Park Villas and opened fire. Like his younger brother, he was found face-down and died a short time later.
Investigators are working to determine if there is any link between the two homicides.
Anyone with information on the killings can call Crime Stoppers at 554-1111.