Teens in Bridgeview shooting denied bail

Cephus Mitchell

Bail was denied Thursday for two teenagers charged with murder in Saturday’s fatal shooting at Bridgeview Village.

More than a dozen spectators filled the tiny courtroom. All were there to speak for the victim, 28-year-old Jamal Gathers.

They would not get to see the accused killers face-to-face because bond hearings in Charleston County are held via a closed-circuit television system. The defendants are in the county jail, across the street from the courthouse.

When the two people accused in the slaying came into view on the large TV screen in the courtroom, an audible shudder went through the room. Spectators began sobbing, wailing and consoling each other.

Cephus Mitchell, 18, of 1385 Ashley River Road, Charleston, and Vashty West, 17, of 236 Columbia Drive, Ladson, are each charged with murder. Magistrate Priscilla Baldwin explained that she could not set bail on a murder charge. Only a circuit court judge can do so.

Baldwin denied bail on the murder charge and Mitchell’s hearing was over and done with quickly, but West had additional charges for which a magistrate can set bail, so Baldwin gave the victim’s family an opportunity to speak.

“When they killed my son, they killed a part of me,” said Ruth Gathers, the victim’s mother. She said she could not bear the pain of losing her child.

According to the arrest warrants, West is the suspected shooter. A witness saw a black female holding a gun and the victim falling to the ground with a gunshot wound, the warrants say. West was also charged with possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime, possession with intent to distribute cocaine and possession with intent to distribute cocaine base.

Baldwin set bail at $100,000 on the weapons charge and $50,000 each on the drug charges, bringing West’s total bail amount to $200,000. Bail for the murder charge was denied.

According to the arrest warrants, the drug charges stem from a search of an apartment at 105-R North Romney St. the day after the shooting. Police found a plastic bag containing 1.66 grams of cocaine and another bag with 5.98 grams of cocaine base in West’s bedroom, the warrants said. During the hearing, it came out that West had been staying with her sister at the Bridgeview Village apartment.

West’s sister, Lakeista Ferguson, also was arrested and faces the same drug charges as West. According to the warrants, Ferguson is the leaseholder on the apartment where the drugs were found. Baldwin set her bail at $5,000 on each charge, for a total of $10,000.