Gunfire in the city, a chase in the county
By Bobby Bryant, Editor
It began with reports of shots fired on North Main Street in Darlington, and it ended with a high-speed chase and a blown-out tire several miles away. About 11 a.m. on May 10, officials got a call reporting people in “multiple vehicles shooting at each other” on North Main, but city police found no one injured in the area and no suspects – at least then. Sometime later, according to an incident report released by Darlington County Sheriff James Hudson, a county sheriff’s deputy noticed a vehicle matching one of the North Main cars – a black Nissan Altima with tinted windows — heading north on U.S. 52. The deputy hit his blue lights and siren, but the vehicle turned off onto Floyd’s Road, and roared away at speeds of 120 mph or more, the deputy reported. The vehicle then turned off onto Leavenworth Road, still going extremely fast, and blew a tire. Chunks of rubber bounced off the deputy’s patrol car, he reported. The fleeing car started spewing smoke, its speed dropped, and it made another turn, this time onto Journey’s End Road. Other law-enforcement vehicles caught up with it and forced it to stop. Three men were in the car: The driver, identified as James Lamont Bishop, 19, of Darlington, and passengers Frederick Bennett Jr., 21, of Darlington, and Damon Williamson Jr., 22, also of Darlington. Investigators found spent shell casings “on the trunk of the vehicle, wedged in between the trunk and back glass.” In the car, the incident report said, were “multiple” assault rifles and high-capacity magazines and an open liquor bottle. According to Darlington County jail records, Bishop was charged with failure to stop for a blue light, failure to yield to an emergency vehicle, driving under suspension, operating an uninsured vehicle, using license plates not registered to that vehicle and littering. Jail records say Bennett was charged with possession of marijuana. Jail records do not indicate that the other passenger was charged in connection to this incident.