Four days after an 8-year-old boy was killed in the crossfire of a gun battle on Hilton Head Island, Beaufort County Sheriff's deputies continued searching Wednesday for evidence on the street where he was shot.
Speaking from a neighboring relative's living room on Allen Road, Khalil Singleton's grandmother said it's become common to see deputies and K9s in the neighborhood of mobile homes, thick underbrush and towering trees.
"They were out here Saturday, Monday, Tuesday, this morning," said Edvina Washington, the boy's maternal grandmother.
Washington said she thinks the deputies are looking for a handgun used by one of the four men suspected of involvement in the gunfight.
Sheriff P.J. Tanner would not discuss what deputies and the Sheriff's Office K9 team are looking for.
The S.C. Law Enforcement Division is currently conducting ballistic testing at its lab, Tanner said, because the Sheriff's Office lab is not equipped to analyze ballistics. SLED agents are not assisting with the investigation otherwise, Tanner said.
Tanner said he will wait for incontrovertible proof before filing additional charges against any of the four men arrested Saturday after the gun battle, but he declined to discuss other details of the case.
Interviews with witnesses are apparently being conducted. One of several children who was playing with Khalil before the gun battle was picked up Tuesday from Hilton Head Island Elementary School by his mother and interviewed in connection with the case, said Beaufort County School District spokesman Jim Foster.
McIntosh said trained forensic investigators, often from the childrens advocacy center Hope Haven, handle interviews with children at the Sheriff's Office.
'HE WAS MY EVERYTHING'
As Khalil's family plans a memorial vigil, a wake and a funeral, Washington, Khalil's grandmother clearly recalls Saturday's tragedy. Her grandson had been living with her off and on for several years, Washington said.
"I was in the kitchen cooking and I heard dat-dat-dat-dat-dat-dat-dat-dat," Washington said, imitating the sound of rapid gunfire. "And then next time I heard two shots -- pop, pop. That was the last time."
Khalil was playing outside with three or four other children who scattered after the shots were fired, Washington said. She was the first to see the child lying on Allen Road, and by then he was alone, she said. She believes he also was trying to run away.
"I feel him, he was warm . . . ," Washington said. "I said to him, 'You're going to be all right.' At that time, I thought he was alive."
She shouted for her niece Britney Brinson, a registered nurse at Beaufort Memorial Hospital who lives nearby, and told her to perform CPR. Brinson was still trying to revive the boy when deputies, then paramedics, arrived. Khalil was pronounced dead at Hilton Head Island Hospital a short time later.
In the wake of his death, Melanie Jones, a friend of the family, has helped plan a Stop the Violence memorial vigil to be held tonight for residents to stand up to "this kind of senseless violence in our neighborhoods, amongst our kids."
Khalil's funeral will be Saturday in Ridgeland.
His father, Kareem Singleton of Ridgeland, said two books Khalil checked out during his last week at Hilton Head Island Elementary School will be placed in his casket. His son was an avid reader, Singleton said. One of the books was a children's mystery, "The Curse of the Cheese Pyramid" by Geronimo Stilton. The other was "Scooby-Doo, Don't Play Dummy With Me!" by Robbie Busch.
"He loved to read," Singleton, a crane operator at the Port of Savannah, said of his son. "He was my everything. I don't know what I'm going to do."
Hilton Head Island Mayor Drew Laughlin said he has offered Tanner and 14th Judicial Circuit Solicitor Duffie Stone any assistance the town can provide to prevent a similar tragedy that "should never happen to anyone."
"I was able to speak with the boy's father and convey that all of us on Hilton Head Island are thinking of him, praying for his family and sharing in his loss," Laughlin said.
The four men who have been arrested in connection with the case are:
- 3 of 4 men arrested in Hilton Head boy's shooting are felons, Sept. 4, 2012
- VIDEO: Hilton Head Elementary memorializes slain third-grader, Sept. 4, 2012
- Students at Hilton Head Elementary return to school following shooting death of classmate, Sept. 3, 2012
- Four in custody following shooting death of Hilton Head 8-year-old, Sept. 2, 2012
- Eight-year-old boy shot to death in Hilton Head Island crossfire, Sept. 1, 2012