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BCSO gets a new forensics building (copy)
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The previous building where Berkeley County Deputies stored evidence reeked of marijuana and was packed to the ceiling. Guns of all sizes had to be piled up and stacked like cordwood. A new building for investigators and the evidence they bring in was long overdue.

On Jan. 11, the ribbon was officially cut, now the doors are set to open at the new Forensic Services building in Moncks Corner.

Deputies in Berkeley County bring in over 1,000 pieces of evidence a month. Items such as guns, drugs, cars, clothing and fingerprints all have to be processed and stored, possibly for years.

“We’ve just been behind and this is really a big deal for us to be able to have a facility like this where we can really do the things we’ve got to do,” said Sheriff Duane Lewis during a tour with the media.

The old building near the courthouse and detention center off of California Avenue in Moncks Corner has less than 2,000- square-feet of working space. The new building offers 6,850-square-feet and includes a bright and clean space to investigate vehicles from top to bottom.

“It’s better than what we had because we had nothing,” Lewis said. “We’ll be able to lift the vehicles look underneath and collect whatever evidence. It has taken the technicians and crime scene people out of the elements and it’s taken the item, the vehicle whatever we may have—it’s taken it out of the elements.”

The new building sits behind the sheriff’s office on North Live Oak Drive and could not have come soon enough. As the population continues to grow across the county, there’s more crime and more evidence. Recognizing the need, Berkeley County Council approved the $1.2 million needed for the project which was completed in 8-months.

“It’s going to allow the public to come here; we have sensitive cases and we need to talk about the evidence, show them some of the evidence,” said Lewis. “The solicitor’s office now has an opportunity to come and examine evidence that we display before we go to court.”

Lewis said deputies will start bringing evidence into the new building in about three weeks.

Joint Base Charleston C-17 hits four millionth flight hour
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C-17 Globemaster IIIs from the 437th Airlift Wing made history hitting four million flight hours, Jan. 15, 2021 at Joint Base Charleston, S.C.

Joint Base Charleston hosted and executed a ceremonial flight of the C-17 to celebrate the airframe’s four-millionth flying hour. The event is a celebration of the accomplishment and a thank you to the Airmen, industry partners and community leaders who made this possible.

Highlights of the event included reflecting on the 27-year history of the C-17 and its role as a strategic airlift workhorse in numerous humanitarian and military operations.

“This is such a tremendous accomplishment for the C-17,” said Lt. Gen. Brian Robinson, Air Mobility Command deputy commander. “This aircraft is one of the main reasons we are a superpower and we can project power any time, any place.”

The C-17 has played a big part in accomplishing the Air Force and Air Mobility Command’s mission of rapid global mobility.

In its 27-year history at Joint Base Charleston, the C-17 participated in numerous notable events, including operations VIGILANT WARRIOR, NOBLE EAGLE, ENDURING FREEDOM and many others including hurricane responses.

During the flight, the C-17s were refueled by the next generation of refueling aircraft, the KC-46 Pegasus, from the 916th Air Refueling Wing at Seymour-Johnson Air Force Base, N.C.

Col. Jaron Roux, 437th Airlift Wing commander, who has flown both the C-17 and refueling aircraft, rejoiced in the teamwork by the two bases and the Charleston community for the day’s events.

“I’m so proud of this base and this community,” said Roux. “To come together and celebrate and be a part of history is no small feat.”

Pitcher reaches milestone in military career

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A College Park Middle teacher has climbed the ranks to now lead an infantry battalion in the National Guard in the upstate.

On Jan. 9, the 4-118th Combined Arms Battalion, South Carolina National Guard, honored U.S. Army Lt. Col. Joseph B. Bulwinkle, 4-118th Combined Arms Battalion outgoing commander.

The battalion also welcomed U.S. Army Lt. Col. Brandon T. Pitcher, during the 4-118th Combined Arms Battalion change of command held at McCrady Training Center in Eastover.

Bulwinkle relinquished his command to Pitcher after nearly five-year post as commander.

Pitcher is a seventh and eighth-grade science teacher at College Park Middle. This is his first year at the school. He has served in the National Guard for 25 years.

Pitcher said this milestone achievement is “huge” and something he has been working toward during his career with the National Guard.

“This is a big deal for me,” he said, adding, “To be chosen is quite an honor.”

The Change of Command went into effect this month.

According to a write p of his bio, Pitcher is a graduate of the College of Charleston with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and holds a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from the Citadel College of Graduate Studies. Pitcher has served as a teacher and school administrator for more than 29 years in the Berkeley County School District and Dorchester School District Two; he retired as Oakbrook Middle’s principal last year and desired to head back to the classroom, and came to College Park Middle.

Pitcher attended the Palmetto Military Academy Officer Candidate School, Class 49 and commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in 1998. He is a graduate of the U.S. Army Infantry Officer Basic Course, the Infantry Captains Career Course, the Combined Arms Exercise course, the Human Resources Management Qualification Course, and is a graduate of the Command and General Staff College.

Pitcher’s previous military assignments include: Deputy Commander, 218th Regiment (Leadership); Executive Officer, 218th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade (MEB); S1, 218th MEB; S3, 1-118th Infantry Battalion; S1, S3 Air, 4-118th Infantry Battalion; Commander, Company A, 1-118th Infantry (Deployed); Executive Officer Detachment 1, HHC, 1-118th Infantry; Executive Officer, Company A, 1-118th Infantry; and Platoon Leader, Company B, 1-118th Infantry.

Pitcher’s military awards include: the Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Army Achievement Medal, Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with M device, NATO Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Army Reserve Components Overseas Training Ribbon, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Combat Infantry Badge, and Expert Infantry Badge.

He is a member of the National Guard Association of South Carolina, the National Guard Association of the United States, the National Infantry Association, Sumter Guards, Washington Light Infantry, and the Sigma Chi Fraternity.

Pitcher lives in Summerville with his wife, Susan, and their daughters, Brettan, and Graycen, and son, Colton.

View photos from the change of command ceremony.

Suspect in recent arrest forfeits money and guns
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Recently the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office announced the Narcotics Task Force arrested a Goose Creek man on trafficking drug charges.

In a statement to the media, Sheriff Duane Lewis announced the arrest of 24-year-old Nathan Dean Martinko.

The sheriff said the arrest came after several community tips led to a narcotic investigation.

Martinko was booked into the Hill-Finklea Detention Center. Court information shows he was released on a personal recognizance bond not long after his arrest in December, 2020.

Court papers from a January forfeiture hearing involving Martinko and the Solicitor’s Office show Matinko forfeited $21,181 and 12 firearms.

The evidence was seized, court papers said, by law enforcement during the arrest and investigation. The guns included an AK-47, a 50 cal. rifle and a Desert Eagle pistol. Court documents said the bulk of the money and items seized goes to the seizing agency.

The sheriff’s statement said the task force began conducting surveillance on Martinko’s Crowfield Plantation residence in December. During their investigation, detectives were able to obtain a search warrant for the residence, located in the Hamlets.

The information from the sheriff’s office said detectives seized approximately 200-pounds of presumptive marijuana, 90 grams of presumptive psilocybin, 630 grams of suspected narcotics in powder form and more than $20,000 in cash.

Investigators said during an interview, Martinko admitted to detectives he had no legitimate source of income and relied on drug trafficking to support his lifestyle. Martinko was arrested on charges of trafficking marijuana of 100 pounds or more and additional illegal narcotic-related charges are forthcoming, the sheriff’s office said.

The BCSO Narcotics Task Force is comprised of detectives of the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office, Goose Creek Police Department, Hanahan Police Department and the Moncks Corner Police Department.

“We rely on our residents to speak up when they observe suspicious activity in their neighborhoods.” Berkeley County Sheriff Duane Lewis said. “After receiving those tips from residents, our detectives will work around the clock to ensure we reach a resolution.”

The sheriff asks if anyone sees possible drug activity in their area to call the drug tip line at (843) 719-4424.