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Employee Murdered at S.C. Car Dealership

15 Apr, 2024 Liz Carey

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Columbia, SC (WorkersCompensation.com) – A car dealership employee is dead after a South Carolina workplace shooting, one of several this week across the country.

Authorities said Graham Pope, a 39-year-old employee at JT Kia in Columbia, S.C., was found shot at the dealership on April 8. Police responded to the call around 3 p.m., and found Pope in a car. He was taken to an area hospital where he died a few hours later.

Westley Gross, 28, was suspected in the shooting. After officers arrived, he sped away from the business, leading police on a high speed chase throughout the downtown area.

Officials said Gross entered the dealership and shot Graham at point blank range. Employees and customers ran for cover, spokesmen for the dealership said, many of them hiding under desks.

It’s not clear if Gross knew Graham before the shooting occurred.

Police followed Gross out of the dealership and into the downtown area when one of the police cars collided with another car, killed the pregnant woman and her unborn baby inside the car.

Police continued to chase Gross until he crashed into the backyard of a home. He was charged with murder and possession of a weapon during a violent crime.

In Birmingham, Ala., police are investigating the shooting death of a UPS employee killed after clocking out of his shift on April 9.

According to the Birmingham Police Department, officers responded to the scene of a person shot just after 6 p.m. First responders found Anthony Lamar Love, Jr., 44, of Alabaster. Officials pronounced him dead at the scene.

An initial investigation determined that Love was walking to his car when he was shot. No suspect has been identified, and officials said the shooter fled the scene right after the shooting. Police said they believe the shooting was a targeted attack.

“Some employees are very shaken up about what has happened here. They are scared about what has happened here,” BPD Sgt. LaQuitta Wade said at a press conference.

In Southfield, Mich., a Chipotle employee was shot in the leg over guacamole.

On April 5, police said, a shooting broke out at a Chipotle on Evergreen Road in Southfield near 7 p.m. The victim, a 21-year-old man, was taken to a hospital and treated for a non-life threatening injury.

Officials said the suspected shooter is a 31-year-old man from Detroit. He was located and taken into custody shortly after he fled the shooting.

"I was just eating a bowl and I heard shouting. And then I looked over, they're arguing. One of the workers went to the back, I don't know why, and then when he was in the back, the customer walked around the counter, tried to grab his food and put it in a bag," said Thomas Huber, a witness told local news outlets. "Then the employee came back, and they started fighting, and then we heard a gunshot and just ran out as quick as we could."

Police said the shooter, Aaron Brown, was upset that the portion of guacamole he was given was “skimpy.” After allegedly shooting the victim, Brown picked up his bag of food and strolled out of the building, Southfield Police Chief Elvin Barren said at a press conference.

Witnesses said Brown casually got into his car and drove away without speeding. Brown was arrested minutes after leaving the scene and charged with assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder, discharging a weapon in or at a building causing injury, and two counts of possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

And in Orient, Ohio, a lieutenant was shot and killed during a training exercise at the Corrections Training Academy.

Officials said Ohio Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (ODCR) employee Lieutenant Rodney Osborne was fatally shot before 11:30 a.m. on April 8. Osborne had worked with the Southern Ohio Corrections Facilities in Scioto County for 13 years. He had just been named employee of the year by the prison the previous week.

"We ask that you keep Lt. Osborne’s wife, children, loved ones, and team members in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time," ODRC wrote in a statement.

According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the shooting occurred at the tactical firing range. OSHP Lt. Ray Santiago said it appeared that the incident appears to be a “tragic accident.”

The training academy oversees development and training for all ODRC job classifications. Staff hired by ODRC are required to go through training before beginning their assignments.

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    About The Author

    • Liz Carey

      Liz Carey has worked as a writer, reporter and editor for nearly 25 years. First, as an investigative reporter for Gannett and later as the Vice President of a local Chamber of Commerce, Carey has covered everything from local government to the statehouse to the aerospace industry. Her work as a reporter, as well as her work in the community, have led her to become an advocate for the working poor, as well as the small business owner.

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