NEWBERRY, S.C. — The shooting death of a black man whose body was dragged for several miles is being investigated as a possible hate crime after the arrest of a white man he worked with, South Carolina’s State Police chief said.
Gregory Collins, 19, is charged with murder and made his first court appearance yesterday. No bond was set and he did not yet have a lawyer, Newberry County Magistrate Ron Halfacre said.
The FBI was in Newberry County in central South Carolina on Wednesday assisting in the investigation of the shooting death of Anthony Hill, 30, Reggie Lloyd, State Law Enforcement Division director, told The State newspaper.
“We don’t yet have a definitive motive for all this,’’ Lloyd said.
Hill’s body was found around 4:30 a.m. Wednesday on US Highway 176, and Newberry County sheriff’s deputies followed a trail of blood from Hill’s body back to Collins’s mobile home.
For several hours, Collins refused to come out, and division agents fired tear gas into the home, prompting him to surrender, Lloyd said. Collins was not armed when he was arrested, but Sheriff Lee Foster said he had an empty pistol holster on his side.
Hill died from a single gunshot wound to the head, County Coroner Craig Newton said. Hill was dead before he was dragged, according to deputies.
Hill and Collins worked together at a chicken processing plant, Lloyd said. Neither man had a serious criminal record.
Foster said Collins and Hill spent most of Tuesday together and were at Collins’s mobile home late Tuesday evening into Wednesday morning when Hill was shot.
Foster said Collins attached a nylon rope around Hill’s body and began dragging it behind a truck, apparently until the rope snapped several miles later.
Collins’ mobile home is tucked in a rural, wooded area near Interstate 26, far from the city center.
The tree-lined road along which authorities say Hill’s body was dragged for nearly 11 miles winds through hilly areas before opening up into gated properties of large country homes interspersed with older farmhouses.