Police called to troubled street

Marion Sanders Jr. argues with Walterboro police officers at the corner of Gerideau and Hampton streets Thursday after officers stopped a teen for carrying what turned out to be a plastic gun. Sanders said he's not against the officers' presence but had i

WALTERBORO -- Tensions were already high Thursday when someone called 911 and told dispatchers that a man was holding a gun in the air.

Almost immediately, six police cars tore down Walterboro's two-lane roads until they came to the corner of Gerideau and Hampton streets and found the suspect: a local teen playing with a plastic gun.

Gerideau Street residents, still reeling from a drive-by shooting last week that killed three of their friends and neighbors, including a 20-month-old child, were angry with the sudden interruption and they loudly let the officers know.

"I feel like they're trying to do their job, but they're looking inside the neighborhood," said Rhonda Fair, who lives across the street from the Gerideau Street house where the three were killed and six more were injured Nov. 9 during a drive-by shooting. "They need to be looking outside of the neighborhood."

Walterboro Police Chief Otis Rhodes was among the first officers to respond to the call and one of the last to leave as he smoothed things over with some of the upset residents.

"The gun did look realistic," he said.

He said he understands tensions are high because of the violence and increased patrols but wants the community to understand that authorities are doing their best to crack down on the violence.

"If they say 'gun' -- we're coming," he said. "Not just here but anywhere."

Authorities so far have charged one person in connection with the mass shooting. Denziel Chapman, 19, appeared at a bond hearing before Circuit Judge Perry Buckner on Thursday about an hour before tensions flared on Gerideau.

Chapman told the judge he is a senior in high school and has one child. He is not employed, he said.

Buckner appointed Public Defender Harris Beach to represent Chapman in the case. Beach said he already is representing Chapman on another charge.

Beach asked the court to reschedule the bail hearing for Dec. 7 to give him time to get familiar with the case.

Fourteenth Circuit Solicitor Duffie Stone said that was fine with him.

"As long as he's in the detention center, we have no objection to that," Stone said.