Public safety briefs for September 7th-13th

11 mins read

Former priest charged with sexual abuse

Wayland Brown
Wayland Brown

A Jasper County grand jury has indicted a former Catholic priest for the alleged sexual abuse of two children during the late ‘70s and early ‘80s while he served in a Savannah church.

The accused is 74-year-old Wayland Brown, a former parish priest at St. James Catholic School in Savannah.

The abuse is alleged to have taken place at several Jasper locations, Fourteenth Circuit Solicitor Duffie Stone and Chatham County District Attorney Meg Heap announced during a recent press conference.

Nine indictments were handed down by a Jasper County grand jury. They followed more than year of investigation by the Solicitor’s Office and the Chatham District Attorney’s Office.

Brown will be tried in Jasper County because South Carolina, unlike Georgia and federal courts, does not have a statute of limitations on child sexual assault cases.

Anyone with additional information about this case is encouraged to call the Chatham County District Attorney’s Office’s tip line at 912-652-8080. 

Video available on opioid overdoses

There have been more than 70 drug overdose cases reported in Beaufort County in 2017, 20 of which resulted in death and the vast majority involving opioids. 

The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office invites residents to watch a new public service announcement video, created and produced by the County Channel, to better educate themselves on the opioid crisis and the local treatment resources available. 

The video can be found at youtu.be/-rVnGNNNIQI.

Firefighters respond to 3 accidents in 3 hours

The Burton Fire District responded to three motor vehicle accidents in less than three hours on Aug. 31 that resulted in injuries and traffic delays.

The first accident was reported just after 4:30 p.m. on Francis Morrall Circle. Burton firefighters arrived on the scene to a single-vehicle accident involving a passenger vehicle striking a tree. The driver, who was wearing a seat belt, was treated for what appeared to be non-life threatening injuries and transported to the hospital.

The second accident was reported just before 6 p.m. at the intersection of Parris Island Gateway and Robert Smalls Parkway. Burton fire crews arrived to a two-vehicle accident. This accident resulted in minor injuries and traffic delays. 

The third motor vehicle accident was reported just before 7 p.m. on Trask Parkway at the Whale Branch Bridge. Initial reports were that a vehicle had gone off the bridge and into the marsh. Burton firefighters arrived on the scene to find a pickup truck that had spun off the side of the road. The driver was uninjured. Traffic was delayed for approximately 30 minutes while emergency crews assisted the driver. 

Man wanted in burglary on St. Helena Island

The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office is looking for a man suspected of a residential burglary on Aug. 28 on Ball Park Road on St. Helena Island.

According to a sheriff’s report, at approximately 11:30 a.m. a homeowner reported he received a telephone call from his teenage son that someone was attempting to break into the residence. 

The homeowner drove to his residence and saw a man on the side of his house carrying what appeared to be a long rifle. The homeowner shot at the subject once with a small caliber handgun and the man ran into a wooded area.

Sheriff’s office deputies responded and set up a perimeter once they arrived at the Ball Park Road residence. K-9 units were summoned and conducted a track to locate the subject, which proved unsuccessful. 

The suspect was described by the homeowner as an African-American male, 6 feet tall and about 150-160 pounds. He was wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt and white gym-style shorts. 

Although a broken window was found, it is unclear whether the man actually gained got into the home or if anything was stolen. There was no evidence found at the scene to indicate the man was wounded by the homeowner.

Anyone with information is encouraged to contact Sgt. Andrew Rice at 843-255-3429 or CrimeStoppers at 1-888-CrimeSC to remain anonymous and for a possible reward.   

Shooting on St. Helena is under investigation

The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office responded to a report of gunshots on Aug. 29 on Folly Road on St. Helena Island. 

When deputies arrived they interviewed witnesses and learned that immediately following the gunshots, a gold Ford Taurus with the rear windshield smashed out sped away from the scene. 

Sheriff’s office deputies and K-9 units searched the area for evidence and possible subjects involved in the incident. 

No one was found who was hurt, but small amounts of what appeared to be blood and multiple cartridge casings were on the ground and collected by investigators.

Just over an hour after the Folly Road shots fired incident was reported, two men went to two different area hospitals for treatment of what were described as minor gunshot wounds, one at Coastal Carolina Medical Center with a gunshot wound to the foot and the other at Beaufort Memorial Hospital with a gunshot wound to the thigh. 

Although both men have ties to Northern Beaufort County, it has not been established whether the two wounded men were involved in the Folly Road incident. They were interviewed by investigators. 

In addition, just after 1 p.m. on the same day, a gold Ford Taurus with a smashed rear windshield was found in the K-Mart Plaza in Beaufort. It is believed to be the vehicle that witnesses reported seeing speed away immediately following the gunshots on Folly Road. The Taurus is being processed by investigators for forensic evidence, as is a vehicle with multiple bullet holes found parked in a Folly Road yard near the incident location.  

Anyone with information is urged to call 911 or CrimeStoppers at 1-888-CrimeSC to remain anonymous and for possible reward. 

Man sentenced for pointing gun at deputy

Charles Claston Brown
Charles Claston Brown

A Beaufort man who pointed a loaded gun at a Beaufort County Sheriff’s deputy in 2016 has been sentenced to prison. 

Charles Claston Brown, 40, was found guilty of pointing and presenting a firearm following a brief trial at the Beaufort County Courthouse.

Brown received the maximum sentence of five years. 

On July 9, 2016, Beaufort County sheriff’s deputies went to Brown’s house on Windsor Road after a neighbor heard and saw Brown firing his gun and reported it to authorities. 

When deputies arrived, they heard shots from within the home. Brown wanted them to leave and pointed his gun at law enforcement officers. One of the deputies fired his weapon and shot Brown in the hand. 

“The defendant was found with 129 unfired cartridges and he had a gun full of bullets. He was ready to load and reload,” Assistant Solicitor Leigh Staggs said. 

Brown has a criminal record that includes convictions for domestic violence, armed robbery, resisting arrest and assault and battery. 

Fire alarm saves Battery Point home

A monitored fire alarm system in a private residence saved a Battery Point home by alerting firefighters in time to advert a disaster.

Just after 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 2, Burton firefighters received notification from Beaufort County dispatchers that a fire alarm was activating at a private residence in the Battery Point subdivision in the city of Beaufort.  

Burton fire crews arrived at the residence minutes later and saw smoke inside the home. Firefighters forced their way in the door and located a pot smoldering on the stove only minutes from igniting. Firefighters removed the pot before any fire damages could result, and assisted the homeowner by removing smoke from the residence. 

The Beaufort Fire Department also responded to the scene. 

Burton fire officials strongly encourage the use of monitored fire alarms systems in homes. 

Officials recount several occasions such as these where they were notified by such alarm systems of a growing fire in a home after the residents had left, and were able to quickly respond and extinguish the fire before any damages occurred. 

On March 11, Burton and Beaufort firefighters battled a devastating fire in the Battery Point neighborhood on Bostick Circle which had started after the homeowners had left.

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