Father of SCSU shooting suspect: 'Please, son,' call home - WCIV-TV | ABC News 4 - Charleston News, Sports, Weather

Father of SCSU shooting suspect: 'Please, son,' call home

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Police, rescue crews block off campus after shooting. (Source: ABC Columbia) Police, rescue crews block off campus after shooting. (Source: ABC Columbia)
Brandon Robinson Brandon Robinson
Justin Singleton Justin Singleton
Bernard Singleton, the accused shooter's step-father. Bernard Singleton, the accused shooter's step-father.

ORANGEBURG, S.C. (WCIV) -- A 19-year-old Charleston man has been charged with murder in the shooting death of a South Carolina State University student.

According to the State Law Enforcement Division, Justin Bernard Singleton, of Charleston, was arrested early Saturday morning in Orangeburg and charged with murder. He is currently being held at the Orangeburg-Calhoun Regional Detention Center.  

A judge denied Singleton bond at a hearing Saturday afternoon.

A warrant states Robinson and Singleton were arguing before the shooting. When the argument escalated, the warrant alleges Singleton pulled out a gun and shot Robinson in the neck.

Police spent most of Friday investigating a fatal shooting on the South Carolina State University campus that killed one student. The Orangeburg County Coroner's Office identified the student as 20-year-old Brandon Robinson, of Orangeburg.

Robinson was a member of the school's football team.

The Orangeburg County Coroner's Office said Robinson died of a gunshot wound to the neck. 

 

'I just don't want my son to get lost out there'

Bernard Singleton says he found out about his son's alleged involvement while watching the news Friday night. That's when he knew he had to get in his car and drive to Orangeburg and find his son.

"I really don't know what is going on, but I'm only here to try to get him to turn himself in," said Bernard Singleton late Friday night. "That's all I want him to do."

His son was caught by SLED agents in the pre-dawn hours of Saturday morning.

"I just don't want my son to get lost out there and get hurt with the officers because the first thing they're going to say: armed and dangerous," he said. "I don't want him in that situation, and that's the only reason I'm out here."

Bernard Singleton begged his son to pick up a phone and call him or his mother and let them be there to make easier the transition into police custody.

Bernard Singleton said he had been out of his son's life for "a little while" and did not know what he was studying in Orangeburg, but said he still knew his son was a good person despite the allegations against him.

"I never had no problems with him. I don't know what has gotten into him," the accused teen's father said. "All I want him to do is call somebody at home. You call us, we will bring you in."

He warned that running would lead to Justin Singleton being found dead as well.

"I didn't ride all these miles for nothing," Bernard Singleton pleaded Friday night, tears streaming down his face. "Please, son. Call. Call, son. Call."

SLED has not released details into how agents caught the suspected shooter.

 

Calming fears in the wake of a gunman

University spokeswoman Sonya Bennett said Robinson was involved in the shooting Friday afternoon at the Hugine Suites. But she did say that police think they know who fired the gun and are looking for the suspect.

"Police have not yet apprehend a suspect, but they are currently in pursuit of the person they believe to be the perpetrator," an update from the school reads. 

The University said in an update Friday night that there was at least one person of interest in the shooting, but officials were not releasing that person's name.

"We have been able to identify one person of interest, due to the fact this is an ongoing investigation we are not releasing that person identity," said SC State Police Chief Mernard Clarkson. "At this time we still don't have a motive for this shooting."

At a press conference, police officials said the shooting happened around 1:30 p.m. outside the Hugine Suites, an on-campus residence hall. Witnesses told police that there were four suspects involved in the shooting who left the campus. 

The lockdown that had been put in place has been lifted and SLED is taking over the investigation, officials said in a press conference. 

"Students are safe. The perimeter of the campus has been secured, but the suspects have not yet been apprehended. For this reason, the University has initiated a campus lockdown in the event the perpetrators attempt to return to the campus/," the school said in a Facebook update. 

Officials said that security patrols would be increased overnight to protect the campus from more violence.

South Carolina State University is a historically black university with about 3,200 students in Orangeburg, about 40 miles south of Columbia.

 

'He didn't deserve it'

Tavion Rosemond says Robinson was the best defensive end he had ever seen and could have been on an NFL roster one day. 

Rosemond used to play football with Robinson, and he still remembers the first time they met. 

"I met him because I was trying to bench 275, and I couldn't clear it all the way so it kind of landed on my chest, but he helped me lift up the weight and he was like, 'If you ever need help I'll help you,'" Rosemond said. 

Their friendship started freshman year. 

"It's a shame when tragedy occurs. That's when you want to change something. It should be changed before tragedy occurs because a murder doesn't affect one individual, it affects everyone," he said. 

Now the university community is concerned and parents are calling to check on their students. 

"Fifteen minutes after I found out, friends and family back in Sumter wanted to make sure I was okay and told me to be safe," said James Reuben, a student at the university.

As for Rosemond, he just wants his friend back.

"It was a tragedy," Rosemond said. "He didn't deserve it. He was a good-hearted dude." 

The dorm where the shooting happened houses most of the football team. 

A friend of Robinson who did not want to be identified said in a phone interview that Robinson was a nice person and a popular athlete. 

"He was a football player so he was pretty big. He was a nice guy when he talked to me. I never had any problems with him. It's unfortunate that this happened, but to me he was a good person," the SCSU student said.

He went on to say that there was an argument of between Robinson and the shooter shortly before the shooting, but he did not know the reason for the argument.

In a release Saturday morning, the university said Robinson was a junior industrial engineering technology major from Orangeburg.

"The SC State University family is devastated by the tragic loss of Brandon. Our hearts are heavy with grief and sorrow by the senseless act of violence, which took too soon a beloved member of our university family," said President Thomas J. Elzey.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Brandon's family and friends during this most difficult time in their lives. On behalf of SC State University, I extend our deepest, heartfelt sympathy to them," Elzey said.

Robinson was also a member of the school's football team.

"We are at loss for words right now. The entire university and our athletic family are grieving right now and our hearts are heavy. Our deepest condolences go out to the Robinson family," said Bulldog Head Coach Buddy Pough. "Brandon was a fine young man who was paying his way through college. All he wanted to do was play football for the university. It's a tragic situation, one from which we all must learn." 

The SC State University Counseling and Self Development Center will provide grief counseling to the campus community. The center will be open Saturday, Jan. 25 and Sunday, Jan. 26 from 1 - 4 p.m., according to the university. 

Funeral arrangements have not been set. 

 

Third campus shooting in a week

This is the third campus shooting this week.

On Tuesday, a gunman shot and killed another student inside Purdue University's electrical engineering building. Police said Cody Cousins, 23, an engineering student, killed Andrew Bolt, 21, of West Bend, Wisconsin. Cousins was charged with murder.

Prosecutors and police say Cousins attacked 21-year-old Andrew Boldt around noon Tuesday in Purdue's Electrical Engineering Building on the campus in West Lafayette. Court documents released Thursday say Boldt suffered both gunshot and knife wounds and that several people were in the classroom and witnessed the attack.

The documents don't give a possible motive. Police have said Cousins targeted Boldt but haven't disclosed why or how the two might have known each other.

Both Cousins and Boldt were seniors, and police identified Boldt as a teaching assistant. Documents posted on the Purdue engineering school's website also listed Cousins as a teaching assistant.

Police say when the first officer arrived at the scene of the attack, he spotted Cousins sitting on the ground outside the university building with his hands behind his head. The officer described Cousins as having blood on his hands and clothes.

On Monday, a student was shot and critically injured near a gym at Widener University near Philadelphia. Police were looking for a suspect.

Chester police said the student was shot once in the side by an unknown gunman around 8:45 p.m. Monday and he called 911 himself. The victim, who wasn't identified, was listed in critical, but stable condition at Crozer-Chester Medical Center Tuesday morning after undergoing surgery Monday night, the hospital said.

Chester police were reviewing surveillance footage and were using K-9 units to track the suspect, who they believe fled into a residential neighborhood adjacent to the athletic complex, on the edge of the campus.

Police told reporters that they found one shell casing on the scene and believe the shooter used a revolver.

On Wednesday, the University of Oklahoma in Norman briefly shut down after a report of a possible shooting that apparently turned out to be a false alarm, the university's president said.

 

Some information provided by the Associated Press.

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