Sheriff’s office/SBI investigating deadly shooting at US 74 on ramp

Published 8:50 am Thursday, March 31, 2016


By Leah Justice

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A man was found dead in a truck from a gunshot early Thursday morning and the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) are still investigating.

Investigators are treating the shooting as suspicious.

Two trucks were parked on the on ramp of U.S. 74 in Columbus near Polk County High School when the second truck driver reported an accident around 5:52 a.m. The truck driver of the 18-wheeler hauling two trailers reported that a box truck in front of him rolled backwards hitting his semi-truck, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. The caller reportedly was calling in property damage and was unaware the man in the box truck was deceased.

Capt. BJ Bayne of the sheriff’s office said officers responded to the wreck and realized the man was deceased.

“It does appear to be a shooting,” Bayne said.

The sheriff’s office called the SBI to help process the scene. Polk County High School was on lockdown for safety measures until approximately 9:45 a.m. Thursday. Extra patrols were ongoing at the high school following Thursday’s lockdown for safety purposes.

“Extra patrol is at the high school for safety purposes but at this time we don’t feel like there is a threat at the school,” Bayne said just after 11 a.m. Thursday.

Polk County High School Principal Mary Feagan said Thursday morning that there was no reason to believe anyone at the school is in danger but she felt putting the school on lockdown was a needed extra precaution while law enforcement was working the scene nearby.

There was also a lockdown at the Isothermal Community College-Polk campus but it was also lifted Thursday morning.

“The Columbus Police Department has reported to college officials that there is no known threat in the area,” said Mike Gavin, ICC Director of Marketing and Community Relations. “The lockdown was prompted earlier this morning by a search for a suspect in a reported deadly shooting.”

The name of the deceased has not yet been released pending family members being notified.

Bayne said the deceased truck driver is not from this area. His body is being sent to the state medical examiner’s office for an autopsy.

Just under an hour after the call came in about the deceased man in Columbus, an armed robbery occurred at the Crossroads Quick Stop in Landrum. The Landrum Police Department and the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office were investigating a robbery at the convenience store located at 100 W. Rutherford Street that was reported at 6:39 a.m. Thursday.

Check for updates on this developing story.