HANAHAN -- Police said Joseph Alexander Howard was playing with a revolver when he shot 19-year-old Hanna Tyus in the back of the head.
Authorities said one bad decision followed the next as Howard, 22, and 17-year-old Kenneth Alexander Capers neglected to call 911 as soon as the shooting happened shortly before noon Wednesday at a Willard Drive apartment. Instead, the pair attempted to hide the gun and then carried Tyus -- limp but still breathing -- to Howard's car, police Lt. Michael Fowler said Thursday.
Fowler said the shooting is believed to be accidental and that Howard didn't know the revolver was loaded.
Howard told police he was trying to take her to Medical University Hospital for help but he crashed the car on Murray Drive. Rescuers found Tyus slumped over in the backseat of the car. She died of the gunshot wound at the scene, authorities said.
Investigators charged Howard with manslaughter and reckless driving and Capers with misprision of a felony, which covers withholding information from police. Both men are being held at the Berkeley County jail awaiting a bond hearing.
Fowler said the men were charged because of negligence involved in the case.
Howard has a criminal record dating to 2005, according to a State Law Enforcement Division criminal records check.
At the time of his arrest, he had charges pending for interfering with North Charleston police in September; failure to appear on a felony charge in July in Charleston County; assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature in North Charleston in January 2009; and armed robbery in North Charleston in October 2008. He was convicted in September 2005 of possession of crack cocaine.
Capers had not been arrested as an adult before Thursday, according to SLED.
Family members say Tyus was the mother of an 11-month-old child. She was not pregnant at the time of her death, despite some media reports, Fowler said.
Jeff Ledbetter, who is Howard's uncle and Tyus' boyfriend, said family members were still trying to sort through details Thursday. He and others said the Howard that police described does not sound like the Howard they know.
"This is all confusing," Ledbetter said.