Public safety briefs for August 17th-23rd

7 mins read

Man convicted in police officer shooting 

Malcolm Antwan Orr
Malcolm Antwan Orr

A Hampton County man who shot an Estill police officer on New Year’s Day in 2016 was sentenced Aug. 9 to 35 years in prison.  

A jury found Malcolm Antwan Orr, 29, of Grayson Street, guilty of attempted murder and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime following a two-day trial at the Hampton County Courthouse. 

Orr was sentenced to the maximum amount of time: 30 years for the attempted murder offense and five years for the weapons violation. The sentences are to be served consecutively.  

Estill Police officer Quincy Smith was shot four times on Jan. 1, 2016, while responding to a call. A camera in Smith’s glasses, which the officer purchased for himself on Amazon, captured the incident. 

Smith’s voice can be heard in the recording as he lay outside his patrol car. He told the emergency dispatcher, “Tell my family that I love them.”

“If but not for the grace of God and some very good doctors, this would not only have been a murder case, but a death penalty case,” said 14th Circuit Solicitor Duffie Stone, who prosecuted the case.  

At about 11 a.m., Smith responded to a suspicious persons call at the Charles Party Shop along U.S. 321. 

A clerk told Smith that a man wearing camouflage and a red bandana tried snatching groceries from customers. Smith spotted a man matching that description walking away from the store along Railroad Avenue. 

Smith drove his patrol car a short distance toward the man, who was later identified as Orr. Smith parked and ordered Orr to stop. Orr refused and continued to walk away from Smith, holding a cellphone to his ear and keeping his right hand in his jacket pocket. 

Smith told him to take his hand out or he would “be tasered.” That’s when Orr brandished a 9 mm handgun and began firing, never taking the phone away from his ear.  

Smith was fired upon, “not once, not twice, not three times, or four, or five, or six, or seven, but eight times,” Stone said during closing arguments. Stone placed each of the spent 9 mm casing on the railing at the jury box. Smith was struck at least three times, suffering two broken arm bones and a “life threatening” neck injury. 

At least two of the eight rounds were fired while Smith was lying on the ground and another two were fired as Smith ran for cover, back to his parked patrol car.  

Dr. James Dunne, the emergency room physician who treated Smith at Memorial Health Medical Center in Savannah, testified that a bullet completely severed a vein in the right side of Smith’s neck. A bullet also passed through Smith’s upper torso and was extracted from his back.  

The jury deliberated for less than 45 minutes before coming back with a guilty verdict.  

Sheriff’s office asks for public’s help

Justin Earl Bessinger
Justin Earl Bessinger

The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office is seeking assistance in locating Justin Earl Bessinger. 

Bessinger is wanted for a general session bench warrant and a Beaufort municipal bench warrant. 

Bessinger is 5 feet, 10 inches tall and weighs 135 pounds. He has black hair and brown eyes. 

He is possibly in the Old Salem Road area in Beaufort.

Anyone with information can call Investigator Adam Draisen at 843-255-3409, Beaufort County Dispatch at 843-524-2777 or Crimestoppers at 888-274-6372 to remain anonymous.

Man who shot woman, dog sentenced to 20 years  

Jamal Atkins
Jamal Atkins

An Estill man who shot a woman and her dog while stealing items from a parked vehicle and an outdoor freezer has pleaded guilty.

Jamal Atkins, 19, of Lawton Avenue, pleaded guilty Aug. 7 to attempted murder, first-degree burglary, second-degree burglary, possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime and breaking into a motor vehicle. 

Circuit Court Judge Roger Young sentenced Atkins to 20 years in prison.   

At around 10 p.m. on Dec. 28, 2016, a Fourth Street resident attempted to let her dogs outside when she came upon a burglar stealing steaks and some loose change from a car. 

The woman and her dog were shot multiple times. Both continue to recover.   

Two separate wrecks send 2 to hospital

Burton firefighters responded to two motor vehicle accidents on Aug. 11 resulting in two injured occupants, one with what appeared to be critical injuries. 

Burton firefighters responded to the first accident just after 1:30 p.m. on County Shed Road. 

Firefighters arrived to a two-vehicle accident between a van and pickup truck; both sustaining moderate damages.

The driver of the van was transported to the hospital with what appeared to be non-life threatening injuries. County Shed Road was blocked for over 45 minutes while emergency crews assisted the injured driver and removed roadway hazards. 

The second accident occurred just after 9 p.m. on Clarendon Road.

Burton firefighters arrived on the scene and found a damaged motorcycle by the gate to Clarendon Plantation but could not find the driver. Burton firefighters, Beaufort County Sheriff Deputies and EMS searched the area, eventually finding the driver approximately a mile away from the scene.

The motorcyclist was transported to the hospital with what appeared to be critical injuries. 

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