McCLELLANVILLE -- Four men with graying beards sat on a fence Friday talking just a few feet from where a man had been stabbed to death the night before.
They talked about how things used to be in this tiny fishing town tucked inside the Francis Marion National Forest, back when two men could come to blows and then return to being friends the next day. That was before they say a younger generation of men took over, a generation tempted by guns, drugs and violence.
The men still love their town, they said, but it's not like it used to be -- not when four men have been killed in the McClellanville area since January.
"Time brings on changes," lifelong resident Jack Cannon said while sitting on the fence. "It's sad that it's not for the best."
Sabie Powell Jr., 58, of McClellanville, died from a stab wound Thursday night in the driveway in front of 1774 River Road, Charleston County Deputy Coroner Dottie Lindsay said. By the next day Charleston County sheriff's deputies charged the handyman's former son-in-law, Harold
Centell Powell, 29, of McClellanville, with murder.
Friends and neighbors who were friendly with both men said it should have never ended this way.
"This is so uncalled for," Cannon said.
Witnesses and deputies said the two men were hanging out and talking beneath a shade tree next door about 7:45 p.m. when the discussion turned into an argument and the younger man pulled out a pocket knife and stabbed the victim in the chest.
A witness told deputies that she saw the suspect yelling at the victim but the situation had calmed down for a few moments when the suspect walked down to the road, put down a beer and yelled for the victim to come to him, according to a sheriff's office affidavit.
The victim walked toward the suspect who was now holding a pocketknife. The witness, who was not named in the affidavit, said the two men fought and at one point she saw the elder Powell turn toward her. His shirt was covered in blood, the affidavit said.
Harold Powell was arrested at the scene.
Julia Snyder said she heard the yelling from next door and walked over to see what was going on. She said she turned and walked away just before the men disappeared on the other side of the house.
Snyder said Sabie Powell was a good friend and jack-of-all-trades who often fixed things for his neighbors. She also considered Harold Powell a good friend.
"I don't know what to say, it's so sad," she said. "I don't know what's going on lately. Every time you look around something is going on."
Just last month Melvin Simmons Jr. was shot to death inside his Old Georgetown Road home by two men who had broken in, authorities said. One of the suspects was also killed when someone in the house returned fire. A second suspect survived the gunfire and was arrested and charged with murder this week.
In January, 25-year-old Patrick Young died of two gunshot wounds. No charges were filed against the man who admitted he shot and killed Young after authorities determined the shooting was in self-defense.
The deaths were preceded by a shooting at a McClellanville gas station in June of 2009 and a home invasion six months before that in which one resident was shot and another was sexually assaulted.
Patricia Middleton, assistant pastor at St. James AME Church, organized candlelight vigils after the deaths of Simmons and Young, but said Friday she is not holding a vigil following Powell's death. This time she wants to have a community meeting to address the ongoing violence.
She said the town needs to come together and demand an increased police presence and more afternoon activities for the youth who have nothing to do.
"It's very frustrating that I have to do these vigils every time something happens," she said. "It's going from once a year to every six months and now it seems like it's on a monthly basis that we have to do vigils."
She feels the momentum growing from a community that is also growing weary of the violence.
"More people now want to help," she said. "It's hitting closer to home."