A small army of police officers on Monday afternoon swooped into the West Ashley neighborhood that’s been the focus of a hunt for the man who killed 17-year-old Marley Lion.
Dozens of officers, detectives, crime-scene investigators, helmeted SWAT team members and a HEAT unit from the Charleston Police Department carried out several search and arrest warrants in the Ardmore neighborhood. Officers were seen taking people into custody and carrying out paper bags of evidence from at least one house.
Police would not say if the sweep was related to the Lion case or answer any questions about the operation. A spokesman sent out a one-sentence statement Monday night saying that a press conference is set for noon today.
Police cars blocked off streets from vehicular traffic while the searches were conducted, then moved on to another street in the blocks around White Oak Drive and Evergeen Street.
A half-dozen police officers walked through the streets knocking on doors.
Residents stood in the streets or sat on porches watching the action, which included news trucks and cameras following the officers. Several residents who declined to give their names applauded seeing so many police in their neighborhood.
“It’s a good thing,” a man standing in his yard on White Oak Drive said. “They need to weed out the bad apples.”
A woman said she had been asking police to crack down on drug deals in the neighborhood for some time.
Ardmore is off Savannah Highway behind Joe’s Famous Bar and Grille, where Lion, an Academic Magnet High School graduate, was shot to death while taking a nap in his Nissan Pathfinder about 3:30 a.m. June 16. The homicide was caught on a nearby business’ surveillance video.
Police have said finding the killer is a top priority. Police divers spent two days this month searching two ponds for clues in Lion’s slaying.
Police have said they believe Lion’s killer fled over a gravel path into the Ardmore neighborhood, then ran next to an apartment building on Yew Street, where they said crime-scene investigators found evidence in the mud. One of the warrants was served Monday in that area off Evergreen Street.
Police have been more active in the Ardmore neighborhood since Lion was killed, although police were also targeting the neighborhood before his death. Residents formed the Ardmore-Sherwood Forest Neighborhood Association about five years ago to start working more closely with police to cut down on crime.
The association has reported some progress but has not won the battle. For instance, after Lion was killed, police said they talked to two people who said they heard the gunshots. The men told police they were in the neighborhood looking to buy crack cocaine.
Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553 or twitter.com/dmunday.