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Deputies: Man, 64, angry at playful children, shoots family members in Goose Creek area

George Ernest Merritt

George Ernest Merritt. File/Hill-Finklea Detention Center/Provided

Frustrated by young children playing in his Goose Creek-area neighborhood, a man shot their grandparents and fired at two others, including a 1-year-old girl, investigators said Tuesday.

George Ernest Merritt, 64, of Gator Drive, faces four counts of attempted murder and possession of a firearm in the gunfire Monday afternoon, the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office said. The grandparents are expected to survive their wounds.

Documented in arrest affidavits and a statement, the authorities pieced together this narrative of the ordeal from the victims' accounts and surveillance video:

Before 5 p.m. Monday, the children played in the road near Merritt's house. One was an 8-year-old boy, the other a 1-year-old girl, said Mark Peper, an attorney for the children and their parents.

Merritt emerged from his home and told them to be quiet.

The grandparents, who were watching the children after school, learned about the encounter. They told Merritt not to yell at their grandchildren.

"Merritt got upset and ... retrieved a .22-caliber pistol," the sheriff's statement said.

He confronted the grandparents and the children's mother, telling the woman that she and the baby she was holding were going to die.

He started shooting at several people there and followed them a short distance as they scattered.

The grandfather was hit in the left chest, an arm and an ear. He had tried to shield his family from the gunfire, Peper said.

A bullet struck his wife in the chest.

They were hospitalized but are expected to recover.

No one else was hurt.

Merritt, meanwhile, went back to his house and waited. Deputies soon afterward arrested him peacefully.

Reach Andrew Knapp at 843-937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.

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