NEWBERRY, South Carolina (AP) — The shooting death of a black man whose body was dragged for several miles is being investigated as a possible hate crime after the arrest of a white man he worked with, South Carolina’s state police chief said.
Gregory Collins, 19, is charged with murder and made his first court appearance Thursday. No bond was set and he did not yet have an attorney, Newberry County Magistrate Ron Halfacre said.
The FBI was in Newberry County in central South Carolina on Wednesday assisting in the investigation of the shooting death of Anthony Hill, 30, State Law Enforcement Division director Reggie Lloyd told The State newspaper.
“We don’t yet have a definitive motive for all this,” Lloyd said.
Hill’s body was found around 4:30 a.m. Wednesday on U.S. Highway 176 and Newberry County sheriff’s deputies followed a trail of blood to the home of Collins.
For several hours, Collins refused to come out and SLED agents fired tear gas into the home, prompting him to surrender, Lloyd said. Collins was not armed when he was arrested, but Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster said he had an empty pistol holster on his side.
Hill died from a single gunshot wound to the head, Newberry County Coroner Craig Newton said. Hill was dead before he was dragged, according to deputies.
Hill and Collins worked together at a chicken processing plant in Newberry County, Lloyd said. Neither man had a serious criminal record. There was some other evidence that linked the men that Lloyd did not want to discuss.
“We don’t want to attribute something to Collins that isn’t necessarily true,” Lloyd said. “But out of precaution, given the circumstances, we are investigating the racial angle.”
Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster said Collins and Hill spent most of Tuesday together and were at Collins’ house late Tuesday evening into Wednesday morning when Hill was shot.
Foster said Collins then attached a nylon rope around Hill’s body and began dragging it behind his truck, apparently until the rope snapped several miles later.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.