To Don'ta Pringle's mother, a decision to drop the murder case against three men accused of shooting her son in downtown Charleston last year has prevented justice in the 22-year-old's slaying.
But prosecutors said it was their only choice because the evidence was insufficient; it indicated only that a certain type of vehicle was at the scene July 14.
Glendell Gladden Jr., 30, Omary Rashard Kornickey, 22, and Brian Lenard Ancrum, 24, had faced counts of murder and attempted murder. Only Ancrum remained behind bars Friday on unrelated charges.
Chief Deputy Solicitor Bruce DuRant said Friday that no information pointed specifically at the men. The trio, though, had been riding that night in a sport-utility vehicle similar to the one thought to be used by the killer, police records showed.
Pringle's mother, Heather Pringle of Summerville, said she was "disgusted" by the decision. She said one of her son's friends had seen Ancrum driving the SUV three minutes before the gunshots rang out, a detail mentioned in an arrest affidavit.
"I just want justice for my son," she said. "If I have to get the evidence myself, then that's what I'll have to do."
It marks the third time that Gladden has been cleared of charges in a homicide.
In 2002, he was arrested in a fatal shooting at a Waffle House in West Ashley, but a charge was later dismissed.
A charge he faced in a 2010 shooting death also was dropped because prosecutors couldn't disprove his self-defense story. In that case, a gun was found by the side of the man he had shot during an argument.
Last year's shooting unfolded outside the Exxon gas station at 420 Meeting St.
A crowd had gathered there after a concert at The Music Farm. Don'ta Pringle was talking to some young women when gunfire resounded. Pringle was fatally hit. A man and a woman also were wounded.
Witnesses told investigators that they had seen someone shooting from behind a wall near the gas station, according to documents from the Charleston Police Department. They also had noticed a black Chevrolet Tahoe that they thought had been there earlier return. They thought someone might have gotten out near where the shooter opened fire, according to the paperwork.
DuRant, who was prosecuting the case until the charges were dropped April 4, said none of the evidence proved that the three men were there.
"Simply put, the evidence showed only that there was a black Tahoe near the shooting," DuRant said. "We had no choice but to dismiss the charges."
Authorities had investigated the shooting's possible links to gang-like groups.
Pringle was a member of Summa Town Bound, a group of Summerville residents who had butted heads in the past with West Cash, whose members hail from the Ardmore neighborhood of West Ashley.
Gladden lived in Ardmore, and the other suspects had ties to the community, but no police documents implicated them in a dispute that night with Pringle's group.
Gladden, of Robinhood Drive, was released from jail Tuesday. He is free on bail on charges of indecent exposure and cocaine possession.
Kornickey, who lives on King Street, was freed Monday.
Ancrum, of Tripe Street in West Ashley, had been free on bail until his arrest April 3, the day before his murder charges were dropped. He faces new charges of cocaine-trafficking and weapons possession.
Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.