Hollywood — A resident who begged for help from 911 dispatchers for more than eight minutes as two gunmen violently forced their way into his home Thursday was shot by deputies who said he didn’t drop the gun that they later learned he was using to defend himself.
“Someone was trying to break into my house, please come,” the resident, who spoke with a slight stutter, said in the 911 call. “It’s an emergency, and they have guns.”
The man, who identified himself as Bryan Heyward, said he was the only one at home. With fear in his voice, Heyward described hiding in his laundry room as he told dispatchers that the suspects had already shot out his brother’s window.
He was critically wounded minutes later during the confrontation with deputies around 11 a.m. at 5923 Scott White Road.
He was taken to Medical University Hospital, where he underwent surgery early in the afternoon, sheriff’s Maj. Eric Watson said.
An update on Heyward’s condition at the hospital was not available late in the day.
He was shot in the neck, deputies said in radio transmissions, which were released after The Post and Courier filed a request under the S.C. Freedom of Information Act.
Watson declined to immediately release an incident report and the names of the deputies involved because he said his agency wanted to give State Law Enforcement Division agents, who are investigating whether the shooting was justified, a chance to finish their initial interviews.
By 5:30 p.m., the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office had arrested one of the men suspected in the home invasion. Thomas Zachary Brown, 22, also of Scott White Road, faces charges of attempted murder and first-degree burglary.
Watson said around 8:30 p.m. that investigators were still searching for a second suspect.
The shooting of Heyward, who is black, comes during a time of increased scrutiny on race and the use of deadly force by police departments nationwide. It was exactly a month after video surfaced showing North Charleston officer Michael Slager fatally shot Walter Scott in the back as the 50-year-old black man ran away. Slager remains jailed on a murder charge.
During the 911 call, Heyward gave a description of each of the gunmen and said he had seen one of them the day before at his house. He gave the dispatcher some names.
Eight minutes and 35 seconds into the call, Heyward said, “He’s in my house, please hurry.”
A few seconds later, a loud noise is heard. A brief period of quiet and some muffled yelling ensues.
A minute after that, the line gets quiet again, and the call ends.
Heyward’s grandmother, Isabell Heyward, made a second 911 call. Though she didn’t hear the shots, someone told her to call 911 because “somebody’s shooting at somebody,” she said.
She also told dispatchers that she saw two men on bicycles ride through her driveway.
Dispatchers took Bryan Heyward’s call at 11:02 a.m. But Watson said he did not know what time deputies arrived at Heyward’s mobile home.
When they got there, the deputies saw two black men riding bicycles toward the mobile home’s backyard, he said.
Chasing after the men, the deputies rounded a corner and reached the back of the home. There, they saw a man standing near the doorway and holding a gun, Watson said.
Watson later added in a statement that the armed man “confronted” the deputies.
They told him to drop the weapon, but he didn’t, Watson said. At some point, a deputy fired.
“Our deputies challenged the subject and ordered him to drop his weapon, which he didn’t,” Watson said in a statement. “As a result, one of our deputies fired his service weapon, striking the subject once in the neck area.”
The deputies, who carry .40-caliber Glock pistols, did not know at the time that Heyward lived at the home.
Soon after the deputies announced into their radios that shots had been fired, one of them yelled, “Show me your hands!”
A dispatcher pleaded with the deputies at the scene to tell her who had been shot.
“Is that the suspect?” she said, according to the radio communications. “Was the subject hit?”
“The subject was in the utility room in the back of the house,” the deputy responded, referring to the place where the resident had been hiding from the intruders.
The deputies asked for paramedics as one put pressure on the man’s wound, according to their communications. One asked for internal affairs investigators also to respond.
“There are two suspects armed with guns that’s running around out here, too,” a deputy said. “We could not locate them at this time.”
Supervisors asked the deputies to clarify who was still on the loose and who had been shot.
“That is unknown whether he’s part of the shooters,” a deputy said of the wounded man, “or whether he’s the victim.”
Despite his grave wounds, Heyward managed to say that he had exchanged gunshots with the perpetrators of the home invasion, but it wasn’t known if he suffered any wounds then, Watson said.
A deputy told dispatchers that the gunmen had been looking for Heyward’s brother, but the officer did not say why, according to their communications.
While the Sheriff’s Office investigated the home invasion, the agency asked state agents to look into the officer-involved shooting, SLED spokesman Thom Berry said. The Walterboro-based agents and a crime-scene unit were sent to the site.
SLED typically investigates police-involved shootings in South Carolina, though state law does not require it.
Sheriff’s officials and a representative from Charleston County Council planned to discuss the incident with community members at 2 p.m. Friday at 3691 Leeds Ave. in North Charleston.
“Charleston County is taking all steps necessary to provide as much information to the public as soon as possible,” County Council Chairman Elliott Summey said in a statement. “We are cooperating with all agencies involved, and my prayers are with all those affected.”
Agents went from door to door Thursday afternoon, asking residents about what they knew. Many said they were not home at the time.
But Ella Westpoint, 81, who lives across the street, was in her backyard when she heard two gunshots. Westpoint did not see any part of the shooting, she said.
“It shocked me because it sounded so close,” she said. “Bam, bam. I didn’t know if it was from the police or what.”
Westpoint said she didn’t know her neighbors well enough to guess what could have prompted the violence and the man’s confrontation with deputies. The wooded stretch along Scott White Road has been her home for more than 50 years, she said, and the area is usually peaceful.
Such police activity is not a typical sight, she said.
Another neighbor, Marion Scott, said he came home to find his street lined by law enforcement vehicles and officers wandering around. He, too, said that the secluded part of town is quiet on most days but that it was “scary” to think of a home invasion so close to home.
Another man who lives closer to the shooting site spoke with SLED agents, but he declined to discuss the situation.
Ed Bryant, president of the North Charleston branch of the NAACP, stopped by to gather information before talking with other community leaders. He wondered why the man would have held onto his gun during the encounter with deputies.
“Maybe he wasn’t coherent. Maybe he didn’t understand,” Bryant said. “We’ve got to stop these officers from shooting people so quickly.”