Bluffton tow-truck diver accused in fatal shooting allegedly tries to break out of jail

March 22, 2011 

Preston Oates approaches the bench at the start of his bond hearing at the Beaufort County Courthouse on Friday morning.

JONATHAN DYER

A Bluffton tow truck driver jailed in connection with a fatal shooting Christmas Eve attempted to break out of his cell at the Beaufort County Detention Center over the weekend, according to Beaufort police.

Preston Oates, 27, has been charged by the Beaufort Police Department with malicious injury to property and attempted escape after damaging the window of his cell Sunday, Police Chief Matt Clancy said today.

“He vandalized the window in his cell and was apparently trying to get out,” Clancy said. “It was estimated he did about $2,000 damage to the window.” Clancy said he used "part of a light fixture" to try to break the window.

Oates was charged with manslaughter and a weapons violation for allegedly shooting and killing Carlos Olivera, 34, of Bluffton during an argument in the Edgefield neighborhood near Bluffton.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, Oates had put an immobilizing wheel boot on Olivera’s minivan. Olivera asked Oates to remove it, saying the van had been parked for less than 30 minutes outside the home of Olivera’s brother. Oates said he would remove the boot for $300, authorities have said.

An argument ensued that members of Olivera’s family and neighbors were both witness to and involved in, according to investigators.

Both men were armed.

Olivera never fired his weapon, according to authorities.

Oates shot Olivera six times — four times in the back, once in an arm and once in the head — killing him, the Solicitor’s Office has said.

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