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A Lancaster County sheriff's vehicle passes the Ole Skool Sports Bar and Grill days after a shooting that left two dead and eight wounded early on Saturday, September 21, 2019, just north of the Lancaster city limits. Andrew J. Whitaker/Staff

LANCASTER — The first report of trouble at the Ole Skool Sports Bar and Grill was a fight signaling yet another disturbance at the faded stucco nightclub on the north side of town where police were called often.

The first warning that this time was different came in what police dispatchers said next: Multiple people were fighting, others were running and guns were involved.

It was only a vague description of one of the bloodiest moments of gun violence in the U.S. this year, this time in a small former mill city on Charlotte’s outer orbit in the early hours of a Saturday, around 2:45 a.m. Sept. 21.

By the time police pulled up five minutes later, 10 people had been hit, two fatally. In a nation weary of mass shootings, only nine incidents have seen more people hurt or killed this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

The officers arrived to chaos, according to an incident report.

Gunshot victims were lying in the parking lot where cars were fleeing and people were running out. So many people were outside and “causing such a big issue” that ambulance crews briefly decided they needed to back out, choosing to wait for police to restore order before pulling out more people who were hurt.

In those first moments, someone told police they should come inside and check on a man who was wearing a bloodied yellow shirt and wasn’t breathing. A nurse said she couldn’t find a pulse on him. The officer who came over couldn’t either. Once the crowd began to clear, first responders found another man dead in the parking lot, just outside the front door.

The county coroner identified the dead men as 29-year-old Henry Lee Colvin of Rock Hill and 28-year-old Aaron Mastafis Harris of Kershaw.

The Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office has accused two men in their killings, 30-year-old Antonia Emmanuel Champion of Fort Mill and 31-year-old Breante Deon Stevens of Lancaster. But by Friday, only Champion had been arrested.

A week-long manhunt has focused on Stevens, who police are seeking in connection with two counts of murder and a pair of gun crimes. The sheriff's office says it's working on "several fronts" to find him.

Department spokesman Doug Barfield says investigators are still working through who shot the other people before filing additional charges. Evidence gathered at Ole Skool suggests multiple guns were fired, but authorities haven’t determined exactly how many people were armed.

They also believe the shooting arose from a running feud between Stevens and one of the men who was killed. Barfield declined to say what investigators believe the dispute was about. Authorities also have not disclosed how Champion came to be involved in the incident, but Barfield said Champion and Stevens were acting "in concert."

"We're working on that to determine who else had guns, who else might have fired guns," Barfield said. “We haven’t gotten to the bottom of it yet."

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Vehicles move along Charlotte Highway near the Ole Skool Sports Bar and Grill in the wake of an early Saturday shooting that left two dead and eight wounded just north of the Lancaster city limits. Andrew J. Whitaker/Staff

Emerging scene

The shooting ripped a hole in Lancaster’s rap scene, a small community of musicians that had recently been gaining attention in the Carolinas.

It’s a scene that centered on Ole Skool, a club that gave them a place to perform.

Stevens performs under the name Breezo Dolla. And Harris, one of the men who died, went by the name Maserati Ace.

The Sheriff’s Office has declined to say whether the two competing rappers were involved in the dispute, but Sheriff Barry Faile has said the feud involved people who couldn’t legally have guns because of past violent crimes.

Stevens has racked up multiple convictions since 2005 on charges including strong arm robbery, attempted armed robbery, cocaine possession and distribution and unlawful possession of a pistol, according to Lancaster County court records.

Antonia Emmanuel Champion

Antonia Emmanuel Champion

Breante Deon Stevens (copy)

Breante Deon Stevens. Lancaster County Sheriff's Office/Provided

On a recent Facebook Live video, about a week before the shooting, Stevens promoted his upcoming date at the club as he smoked and riffed in a car with friends. He sent a message to detractors he didn’t name, saying he wouldn’t take their bait.

“I’m trying to be low-key right now ... You put all that dirt in my name all you want to, man, but the street knows I’m silent,” he said in the video. “I appreciate the haters let me know how far I’m really goin’, how far we’re really growin'. ”

Stevens was sentenced to five years in prison over his most recent gun-possession conviction and a handful of drug offenses in 2016. He was released on parole at the beginning of last year, according to the state Department of Corrections.

His parole supervision came to an end in February, said Pete O'Boyle, a spokesman for the state Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services.

Champion was also barred from possessing a gun because he was convicted in 2017 of first-degree assault and battery in Lancaster County. He was sentenced to five years of probation, a term that was set to expire in 2022.

Harris has also been accused of illegally possessing a firearm in the past, including a charge this summer. He was barred from having a gun after he was convicted of aggravated assault in 2013.

Court records show he was accused in July of threatening someone at gunpoint and hitting them in the head with a handgun. Police found a pistol when he was arrested on that charge at the end of August, leading to another count.

Harris was released from jail on $25,000 bond a week before the shooting and was required to wear a GPS tracker. He posted a photo of his ankle monitor to Instagram the next day.

“We know that among the shooter and one or more victims there was a dispute that had been running for some period of time,” Barfield said. “Specifically who versus whom, we’re not exactly certain of all the detail about that.”

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Shoes are left behind near the Ole Skool Sports Bar and Grill days after a shooting left two dead and eight wounded just north of the Lancaster city limits. Andrew J. Whitaker/Staff

Late night

The Ole Skool club, which sits around used-car lots and gas stations on a busy highway just above the Lancaster city limits, was the kind of place that people drove by without noticing.

But it had been garnering the attention of the Sheriff’s Office after a handful of recent calls — about a half-dozen this year — including two reports of shots fired. Todd Rutherford, a state lawmaker and attorney who is representing the bar’s owners, did not respond to a request for comment. The club has a posted no-firearms policy.

“We have had some concerns with that sports bar and grill,” Faile said.

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The front door of the Ole Skool Sports Bar and Grill on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019, in Lancaster County. Andrew J. Whitaker/Staff

Lancaster officials say they have little recourse to deal with bars and clubs that have regular issues. The county doesn’t have a nuisance ordinance, said Brian Carnes, chairman of the county council’s public safety committee.

Carnes said he expects council to consider such a rule, which would let the sheriff’s office shut down establishments it thinks have become problematic. He said he hopes it will put club owners on notice to improve their safety.

Ole Skool opened late at night — so late that many people who worked nearby wondered if it had gone out of business. At a gas station across the highway, Anil Patel said he left work at 9 p.m. the night of the shooting and didn’t notice anyone there. Sundra Hilton said that when she started working at a car lot nearby, she wasn’t sure if it was still open. The club posted hours that ran until 3 a.m.

It gave the place a cover of obscurity.

Ole Skool shows few signs of activity now. The chaos of the shooting’s aftermath only shows itself in small reminders, like a pair of broken gold flats next to a strip of crime scene tape and a few sets of burned-rubber tracks leading from the parking lot to the road.

They are remnants of the state’s bloodiest shooting this year.

Glenn Smith contributed to this article. 

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Reach Thad Moore at 843-937-5703. Follow him on Twitter @thadmoore.

Thad Moore is a reporter on The Post and Courier’s Watchdog and Public Service team, a native of Columbia and a graduate of the University of South Carolina. His career at the newspaper started on the business desk in 2016.