Police charge St. Helena man with fatal shooting Saturday in Beaufort

astice@islandpacket.comJanuary 30, 2012 

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A St. Helena Island man has been charged with murder after the fatal shooting in Beaufort on Saturday that police believe may have resulted from a dispute over drugs.

David Legree, 29, is accused of shooting and killing 48-year-old Michael Edward Smith in a home on Adventure Street, according to a department news release.

Police had been searching for Legree since he evaded a Beaufort Police Department officer in a foot chase near the crime scene and dodged a containment perimeter set up by law enforcement from the department, the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office and the Port Royal Police Department.

Described as a tall black man with dreadlocks who wore jeans and a Pittsburgh Steelers jersey at the time of the murder, Legree was seen leaving the Adventure Street home by witnesses who also reported hearing gunshots, authorities say.

Beaufort police officers discovered Smith fatally shot at the home shortly before 5 p.m.

Other witnesses reported seeing Legree near some apartments in the 1900 block of Duke Street. An officer spotted him lying down in a wooded area behind the apartments, but Legree escaped after a foot chase.

He was then presumed to be hiding in the attic of an abandoned house nearby. For more than two hours Saturday evening, officers set up a containment perimeter.

But a search of the home by the Sheriff's Office SWAT team and K-9 units proved fruitless.

Investigators worked through Saturday night interviewing witnesses. Meanwhile, agents from the S.C. Law Enforcement Division collected evidence to process at their lab.

The investigation is active. A "dispute over drugs" is believed to have been the motive, according to the release.

Follow reporter Allison Stice at twitter.com/LCBlotter.

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