Summerville — Startled awake by a blast of gunfire, a mother rushed out of her home and faced the unthinkable.
Through the darkness late Wednesday, one thing was clear. The woman’s son lay dead in the front yard. She saw blood smeared across his face.
But why the shooting happened, and who is responsible, remain a mystery.
Dorchester County Coroner Chris Nisbet identified the slain man as 36-year-old John Elliot Hancock.
Hancock wasn’t alone the night he died.
Shortly before the shooting, Hancock, his nephew and his nephew’s girlfriend sat talking in a parked car outside the Lilac Street home in the Robynwyn subdivision, family members said.
Then a car drove by and gunshots rang out, about 11:50 p.m.
Witnesses told police they saw a mid-size, four-door brown or silver sedan speed away from the area.
The vehicle had several people inside, Summerville police Capt. Jon Rogers said.
It’s unclear at what point Hancock and the others got out of their vehicle. Hancock was struck multiple times and was the only person hit.
“It is very interesting to me that he was the only one hit, being that (Summerville police) recovered dozens of shell casings,” Nisbet said.
Hancock’s family and friends gathered at the home Thursday morning. They spoke about the incident, but on the advice of a relative who is a lawyer, would not provide their names.
“Some of the neighbors were coming here and telling us it might have been mistaken identity, but we don’t know what happened,” Hancock’s sister said.
“We don’t know if they were after my brother, or after my nephew, or if it was just a random drive-by.”
His family couldn’t think of any reason why someone would want to hurt Hancock.
“My brother was never in any kind of trouble or anything like that,” his sister said. “When they called me and told me about the shooting, I just panicked. I didn’t know what to think.”
Hancock was the youngest of five siblings, affectionately referred to as “the baby” by his sister.
He had a teenage son and was close to his nephew.
“John really was a down-to-earth person.
“He pretty much got along with everybody,” his sister said. “He’s the type of person who mingles with everybody, and was outgoing.”
Reach Christina Elmore at 937-5908 or at Twitter.com/celmorePC.