James Williams, a former corrections officer, stood before an Orangeburg County magistrate Saturday morning to be formally charged with murder.
The 69-year-old Brown Street man is accused of killing 26-year-old Phillip Brunson at the Corner Pocket Club, which Williams owns. He has also been charged with possession of a weapon during a violent crime in the July 19 incident.
Williams had little to say during the court hearing.
When Magistrate Donald West asked him about his occupation, Williams quietly said he’s a retired captain from the Department of Corrections in New York.
He’s been living at his Brown Street address for 20 years, he told West.
Williams also indicated that he would retain a private attorney to represent him in the case.
A few members of Brunson’s family were in the courtroom at the Orangeburg County Law Enforcement Complex for the hearing. A victim’s advocate said they were present to support the court.
West explained that due to the nature of the charges Williams faces, it is the responsibility of a circuit court judge to set bond.
A date has not yet been set for his appearance before a circuit court judge.
According to a Sheriff’s Office incident report, witnesses gave conflicting statements as to what happened the night the Pineland Street man was shot to death.
Williams told deputies Brunson attempted to enter the Goff Avenue club with a pistol, the report said. He said when the man drew close to the building, Brunson fired at a glass door.
Williams said he then pulled his firearm and returned fire, striking Brunson in the shoulder, according to the report.
A woman told investigators she and Brunson had been kicked out of the club due to a fight, the report said. She said other clubgoers were physically pulling Brunson away from the building when a man stepped outside and fired a single shot.
Another witness said Brunson returned to the club with a gun, “down by his right side and walked up to the front door,” the report says. During a struggle between Williams and Brunson, Williams gained control of the weapon and shot Brunson, the witness said.
That witness said he was later assaulted after investigators left the scene. He said a clubgoer accused him of being a “snitch,” and knocked to the ground after being struck three times.
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