Tenant kills thief hiding under
POLICE OVERLOOK BURGLAR:
Charleston police failed to find a burglar during an apartment search after a
resident came home to find items missing.
Sunday, February 4, 2001
By TYRONE WALKER
Of The Post and Courier staff
A burglar undetected during a police search of an East Side apartment early
Saturday morning later crawled from beneath a bed and was shot in the head
during a gunfight with a resident.
The burglar was shot after he shot and wounded
Shermaine D. Whitley, who lives in the ground-level apartment on South Street,
Whitley, 26, was shot in his left leg. He was
treated at Medical University Hospital, but his condition was unknown late
The burglar, who died at the hospital, had not
been identified late Saturday night, said Charleston County Deputy Coroner Rae
Police first were summoned to the apartment
around 4:30 a.m. when Cherese Belin, the tenant, and Whitley returned home to
find an air conditioner removed from a window and money and jewelry missing from
Police think the man entered the home sometime
between 11:30 p.m. and 4:30 a.m. by removing the air conditioner and crawling
through the window.
Whitley and police walked through the home but
found no one inside.
"They didn't look under the beds,"
said Charles Francis, spokesman for the Charleston Police Department.
Around 5:30 a.m., Belin told Whitley that she
still felt uneasy and asked him to search the home a second time.
Whitley grabbed his gun and searched two
bedrooms. The couple then noticed an out-of-place toy that prompted them to peek
under a bed, where they found the hiding burglar. Whitley ordered the burglar
out, but the man yelled and fired two shots from a pistol, one striking
Whitley's left leg. During a struggle, Whitley grabbed the burglar's gun with
one hand and punched him with the other.
Whitley then grabbed his own gun and shot the
burglar in the face twice, according to police reports.
Meanwhile, Belin ran to a nearby service
station and called police.
When officers arrived they found the burglar
lying on his back next to a pistol, bleeding from the head, according to police
Francis said no criminal charges will be filed
"The suspect fired first. The victim
returned fire," Francis said. "He was defending himself."
Wooten said she needs the public's help to
identity the dead burglar.
"We worked all day long. We don't know who
he is," she said.
The dead man is described as a light-skinned
black man, about 6 feet, 2 inches tall and weighing about 175 pounds. He is
between 25 and 35 years of age.
His upper right arm has a tattoo of a champagne
or wine bottle with the letters "D" "F" "L". His
right chest has a tattoo of a heart and lightning bolt, Wooten said.
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