Selling hemp and flowers? Manhunt details emerge


By Bobby Bryant, Editor

The father of the man slain near Hartsville Feb. 27 – a shooting that triggered a weekend manhunt with bloodhounds and a helicopter – has been charged with drug and gun offenses in connection with the case. Joseph Martin McLeod and his son, Christopher Benton McLeod, 29, of Carthage, N.C., apparently flew into Darlington County, at the Hartsville airport, that weekend. The elder McLeod reportedly told officers the younger McLeod intended to sell hemp and flowers when he was shot. The younger McLeod was manager of a licensed, family-operated hemp-growing farm in Carthage. North Carolina news media confirmed that McLeod was an owner of Farm Life Hemp LLC in Carthage. (Hemp is related to marijuana, but has almost no THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. CBD oil comes from hemp plants.) According to law-enforcement officers, media reports, and statements from Sheriff James Hudson, that night’s events happened like this: Leaving their plane, the McLeods waited to make contact with the people the younger McLeod intended to sell “hemp” and “flowers” to. The elder McLeod told authorities that his son had a “bad feeling” about the arrangement. The elder McLeod said that as he was meeting with the alleged customers, someone fired a weapon and his son was shot in the abdomen. The suspects fled. Deputies found the younger McLeod on the ground, bystanders attempting to help keep him alive by giving him CPR. Deputies found a cellphone and a pistol near the wounded man. At some point while dealing with the elder McLeod, deputies found a pistol in his pocket. Since he lacked a concealed-weapons permit valid for South Carolina or North Carolina, he was arrested. Darlington County jail records show that Joseph McLeod was booked into the jail Feb. 27. According to jail records, he was charged with furnishing contraband at a county or municipal prison (apparently he had a .22-caliber bullet somewhere on him during booking); unlawful carrying of a weapon; attempt and conspiracy provisions under drug laws; and manufacturing, possessing other substances on Schedule I, II, III with intent to distribute. Jail records show that he was released on bond March 1. The Feb. 27 shooting resulted in a major manhunt for three suspects. Other agencies, such as the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, the Chesterfield County Sheriff’s Office, SLED and the U.S. Marshals Service reportedly aided the Darlington County Sheriff’s Office in the search. A helicopter and bloodhounds also were brought in. Funeral services for Christopher McLeod were held March 6 in North Carolina. His obituary describes him as “a Renaissance thinker” and “a person of many passions.”

Author: Stephan Drew

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