A gunman shot Travis Aaron Gordon in the face and the head Saturday before he made a frantic escape from the bloody scene at a Summerville-area convenience store, people close to him and the investigation into his death said Monday.
Deputies have revealed little about what led to the 23-year-old Goose Creek man’s death, except that the people involved in the fatal encounter knew each other. Friends and relatives described Gordon, who had no criminal history, as youthful and playful, leaving them perplexed by the brazen daytime slaying that remains unsolved.
He somehow found himself in an emotionally volatile situation on his way to work that morning, said his brother, Christian Gordon. Family members didn’t understand how he wound up at the Quick Food Mart at 2703 U.S. Highway 17A — far removed from his route to Google’s data center in Berkeley County — but the violence that resulted from the confrontation was “nonsensible,” his brother said.
The brother, 25, declined to give further details of the circumstances that prompted the shooting because detectives were still looking for the gunman.
“We understand that the emotions involved are really strong,” he said. “But that doesn’t excuse the person for what they did.”
Investigators from the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office continued to chase leads Monday, Capt. Tony Phinney said, and they expected a development in the case early this week. An incident report added few details about the sixth slaying this year for the Sheriff’s Office, but interviews with loved ones and a witness helped depict how Gordon lived his life and how it ended.
Shonta Spann met the Stratford High School graduate three years ago when she started training him for a job with a government contractor. She saw him as a good-spirited, genuine person who wasn’t afraid to speak his mind. He had an infectious smile. They quickly became friends.
“He was a sweetheart,” Spann said. “It was really easy to talk to him. ... You just had to love him.”
When he wasn’t at work, Gordon occupied himself by watching videos and teaching himself to perform martial arts, his brother said. He was a talented sketch artist.
Last month, he landed a new job for a contractor at Google, his brother said. Like his other contract work, Gordon didn’t talk much about what he did, only saying that he did repair work, his brother added.
“He felt like he was doing a really great thing in life by working there,” Christian Gordon said. “He was excited.”
But Travis Gordon’s last Facebook post on the day of his death hinted at a personal conflict.
“If I lose sleep over you, that means I love you,” he wrote around 2 a.m. Saturday. “Idiot.”
In response, Spann wrote that he should get some sleep and find the “woman of your dreams.” But she doubts that he ever saw the message.
Later that morning, Gordon left the family’s house on Kilkenny Avenue, telling his brother that he had to pick up something at work.
“He just asked me if I could move my car out of driveway so he would go somewhere,” Christian Gordon said. “That was it. Of course, we thought he was going to come back.”
He was at the convenience store before 10 a.m. when the two gunshots rang out. One of the bullets hit his face; the other wound in his head was fatal, Dorchester County Coroner Chris Nisbet said.
Standing outside, Jarrod Newman of Mount Pleasant heard the gunfire. He had gone there to buy snacks.
“The next thing we know, a guy runs out of the store with a handgun,” Newman said. “We didn’t know what his intentions were, so we ran behind the building.”
The gunman looked “frantic” as he tugged on the handle of a door to a two-tone minivan, Newman said. Newman ducked out of the suspect’s sight and dialed 911.
“I went inside and saw the body lying there in pool of blood,” he said.
Witnesses told dispatchers after they dialed 911 that Gordon “was possibly not breathing,” the incident report stated. He died at the scene.
“It’s just a lot of sadness now, mainly because he was such a great guy,” Gordon’s brother said Monday. “He didn’t deserve to go that way.”
Christian Gordon later got in touch with Spann and told her what had happened.
Spann’s mind raced. She searched her memory, but recalled only good times with Travis Gordon. She couldn’t fathom how anybody’s experience with him could have been so different.
“He was always joking around, so I was waiting for someone to say this is a joke,” Spann said. “It just didn’t make any sense.”
Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.