911 callers describe disturbance, shootout at North Charleston party that killed boy, 16

(FILE)

A 15- and a 16-year-old boy had been attending an early morning party when a “disturbance” prompted what witnesses described as a shootout that left the oldest teenager dead and the youngest behind bars, according to police reports and 911 calls released Tuesday.

The North Charleston Police Department responded around 12:55 a.m. Sunday to 8750 Fairwind Drive, where residents of the Fairwind/Oakfield Apartments reported hearing gunshots.

Officers found one person outside Building H cradling 16-year-old Travis Brown Jr. in his arms and three other males yelling, “They shot him,” according to the incident report.

The officers did CPR on Brown, but he died at the scene.

One of the five people who dialed 911 said it had been a shootout. The caller said he was talking with his brother when he heard what he thought was fireworks. He looked out the window and saw the mayhem.

“One of them started limping and crawling away,” the man told a dispatcher. “There were a couple of guns going off. They were shooting at each other.”

Another man, who described himself as a relative of the victim’s, told a dispatcher that he drove up just after Brown was shot several times at the house party. Frantic, the man said he didn’t know what had happened. Everybody was gone, he said.

“Come on, T.J., stay alive,” the caller told Brown as he cried. “Come on, my little cousin.”

The witnesses who were found tending to Brown initially provided no detailed description of any suspects other than to say the possible perpetrators were black, the report stated.

Detectives later learned that both Brown and the 15-year-old boy were among revelers at the party when a dispute between the two ignited the gunshots in the parking lot, police spokesman Spencer Pryor said.

They arrested the youngest boy on a murder charge, Pryor said. He was in the custody of the S.C. Department of Juvenile Justice.

Officers found the suspect’s gun, Pryor said, but they also came across a black revolver with a wooden handle next to the building.

“It is unknown at this time who possessed the second weapon discovered,” Pryor said.

By law, the boy was not immediately charged as an adult because of his age. Prosecutors must first weigh several factors before deciding whether to ask a Family Court judge to charge the suspect as an adult and forward the case to General Sessions Court.

If the suspect were a year older, like other 16-year-olds charged with a violent crime, he would have been arrested as an adult and publicly identified.

Brown’s death was the second homicide at the apartment complex off Otranto Road in as many months.

Michael Taylor, 28, was shot in the head in the early morning hours of Nov. 23 and died in some bushes outside Building D.

Witnesses reported hearing an argument and someone yelling a name that sounded like “Joe” before the fatal gunshots, but no one has been arrested in Taylor’s slaying.

Even in November, people who called 911 about the shooting complained about persistent problems in the community.

“This is like the second or third time I’ve called about this specific apartment building within the last week,” one frantic woman said in a call then.

Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.