“This little girl had the heart and soul of an 80-year-old woman,” Susan Townsend Bateman said through tears on Thursday morning.
Her 4-year-old granddaughter, Addy Grae Bateman, succumbed to injuries sustained in an early morning house fire at 934 Green Street.
“Addy Grae Bateman loved all creatures, great and small,” father Townsend Bateman said.
“She loved her family and the holiday season. She never met a stranger and she had a sense of humor and spirit that filled a room. She was truly a gift on loan from God and we will be forever grateful for the time we shared here on earth,” he said.
“Heaven has gained a true angel,” he added.
Dispatchers received a call about the fire at around 12:30 a.m. Thursday. Firefighters arrived at the residence by 12:34 a.m., Orangeburg Department of Public Safety Capt. Alfred Alexander said.
“Officers encountered the mother of the children and she explained that another child was in the house,” Alexander said.
Emergency responders located Addy Grae inside her bedroom and immediately removed her from the home.
Crews performed CPR on the child and transported her to the Regional Medical Center, where she eventually passed away, Alexander said.
Addy Grae’s 2-year-old brother managed to escape the fire. He received treatment for smoke inhalation at RMC and was released, Alexander said.
Medics transported the children’s mother to the Augusta Burn Center where she is undergoing treatment for internal injuries.
Alexander said the fire started in the kitchen area and appears to be accidental.
The incident remains under investigation.
In the meantime, Addy Grae’s family is celebrating her short 4-and-a-half years of life by embracing their memories.
“She was in the first year at St. Andrews (United Methodist Church) kindergarten and she liked going there and playing,” grandfather John Bateman said.
He was at the beach with his wife when he got a call from his son.
“He’s been at the burn center with his wife,” who has burns on her hands, feet and face, John Bateman said.
He said the last time he saw Addy Grae was on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.
“She was always happy and laughing,” he said.
Addy Grae’s grandmother was trying to stay busy on Thursday.
“If you’ve ever known anybody that was about too good to be in the world, somebody with a heart and spirit that was so sensitive,” she said.
“She had a beauty and love that was unmeasured her whole life for all of God’s creation. She adored life. She adored people. She always had a heart of wanting to help others. She never wanted anybody to hurt,” she said.
“She didn’t want people to feel left out. She didn’t want children to feel rejected,” she added.
And the loss of Addy Grae is particularly difficult during the holidays.
Her grandmother said she’d taken her sewing machine to the beach to make little chef hats and Christmas aprons for them to wear for Addy Grae’s visit, which was planned for next month.
“We had so much planned,” she said.
“She was coming to visit and we were going to make gifts for the birds,” she said.
Addy Grae’s family said they will continue to lean on God to comfort them with peace during their time of loss.
An Orangeburg man is accused of firing multiple gunshots into a crowded apartment complex, injuring a juvenile, Orangeburg County Sheriff Leroy Ravenell announced on Thursday.
“This shooting came just days after we committed the manpower and resources for a four-day crime suppression effort in Roosevelt Gardens,” Ravenell said. “If these individuals thought we were through, they have another thing coming.”
Devario Malik Jamison, 26, has been charged with assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature in connection with Sunday’s shooting at the Magnolia Street apartment complex.
During Thursday’s court hearing, bond was set on the Orangeburg man at $30,000 surety.
Ravenell told the court there was more to the story than an isolated shooting incident. There was a disregard for every resident – man, woman and child – in Roosevelt Gardens, he said.
“This wasn’t just a close-up shooting,” Ravenell said. “This was shooting randomly across a parking lot – a total disregard for the people of Roosevelt Gardens.”
Multiple residents called 911 around 1:30 p.m. Sunday saying several shots had been fired on Judicial Circle inside the complex.
One witness said at least 13 shots were fired. Investigators located 15 spent shell casings, according to the report.
Four residents reported their vehicles were shot, some several times. Investigators discovered a fifth vehicle that had been struck as well.
Investigators later learned that a juvenile had been taken to the hospital to be treated for a non-life threatening gunshot wound to the arm.
Ravenell said the shooting came just days after the sheriff’s office concluded an intensive crime suppression effort at Roosevelt Gardens.
“We had been there just days before for crime suppression,” he told the court. “We had kids come out because we were there. They won’t come out to play because these guys come and are shooting.”
The effort was in response to residents’ complaints of shots being fired, gang and drug activity, loitering and break-ins.
“Some of these people said they are afraid even when they take their children to a bus stop,” Ravenell said later. “This is going to stop. No one who isn’t breaking the law should be in fear.”
During the crime suppression effort, five individuals were arrested on charges that included unlawful carrying of a weapon, possession of marijuana, loitering and violations involving driver’s licenses.
“And then this shooting happens as if the criminal element thought we were finished with the area,” the sheriff said. “I got news for you – we are not finished.”
Ravenell said another suppression team will be in the area this week.
A Denmark man has been charged in the fatal shooting at Voorhees College earlier this month.
Donterry Isaac Staley, 26, is charged with murder in the death of Charles Edward Williams Jr., 26, also of Denmark.
Williams was killed in a Nov. 9 shooting incident at the college. Another individual was also shot and injured in the incident.
The shooting occurred after a college homecoming event. Reports indicated the shots were fired from a vehicle at a crowd gathered nearby.
The State Law Enforcement Division arrested Staley on Nov. 21 in Columbia.
Denmark Police Chief Leroy Grimes said the investigation is ongoing.
"We are going to talk to other people out there,” he said.
Grimes said other arrests are possible in the case.
The department is “still working on trying to determine a motive” for the shooting, he said.
Staley is also charged with attempted murder and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime.
He and the victims were not students at the college.
Staley is being held at the Bamberg County Detention Center.
An inmate serving a 30-year sentence for voluntary manslaughter and assault was found hanging in his cell at Lieber Correctional Institute in Ridgeville.
Dorchester County Coroner Paul Brouthers said that Alan Fields, 29, was “found hanging from a bedsheet in his cell” on Wednesday.
Officials have taken his body to Newberry Pathology, where it will undergo an autopsy.
The S.C. Law Enforcement Division, S.C. Department of Corrections and Dorchester County Coroner’s Office are investigating Fields’ death.
On Oct. 1, 2013, Circuit Judge Ed Dickson sentenced the Orangeburg man to a negotiated 30-year prison term.
Orangeburg prosecutors said Fields was responsible for 84 text messages outlining plans in the shooting death of Taneris Hamilton.
Hamilton was shot at least 11 times by three different weapons, authorities said.
Prosecutors said Fields and his co-defendant texted each other while the co-defendant was inside Hamilton’s residence.
Fields was at another location waiting on the text signal to rush into the residence and rob Hamilton of drugs and money.
Fields’ charge of assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature stemmed from a March 11, 2012 interstate shooting.
He and two others were at a St. Matthews Road restaurant when they followed a man out of the business and pursued him onto Interstate 26, where they fired shots into the man’s car.